Find your drive before setting your New Year’s Resolutions

New year, new resolutions, a fresh start – time to improve and make things differently! That is a common way of thinking when next year approaches, yet most people fail to stick to their resolutions and rather become discouraged. However, by investigating your motivational forces, you can better prepare your New Year’s resolutions and increase your chances of success.

As with everything you do, you have to ask yourself “what drives you?”. There can be several different reasons including:

  • You want to please someone.
  • You get rewarded.
  • You want to, your are interested and it gives you pleasure.

In today’s society, people are often driven by extrinsic motivation. From early years, children are encouraged to do things for rewards or to please others e.g. their parents. This mentality continues throughout life. At workplaces for example, carrots and sticks are heavily used as driving forces. But is reward and punishment really the way to go in order to get the best results?

Studies performed already in 1993 showed that people expecting to be rewarded for completion of a task perform worse than people not expecting a reward. In the Huffington post, Tim Elmore discusses how rewards steal children’s ambition: “In our effort to reward students, we have stolen the satisfaction of the work itself. In giving them something for nothing, we’re stealing ambition from them.”

Scientific research shows that carrots and sticks only work as motivators in very few settings. Better results are in general achieved when people are motivated by intrinsic motivators such as autonomy, mastery and purpose. In his talk, viewed over 12 million times, career analyst Dan Pink discusses “the puzzle of motivation”.

So when you make your New Years resolutions for this year, it could also be worth taking into account the reasons for your resolutions. What is your motivation and drive? What are your visions and goals?  Clarifying this might help to choose resolutions that will actually work.


Header image credits royalty free


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About Monika Abramczuk

Monika studied biotechnology and molecular biology. When not engaged in research, she likes to read spy thrillers, drink tea, bake and travel.

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