Have your New Year’s resolutions been abandoned? Find out what makes keeping resolutions hard and try this proven way of achieving your goals

Scientists at the Queen Mary University of London have discovered what makes it hard to reach our goals and what we can do to make it easier.

They identified two critical stages in the goal decision-making process:

  1. Reward – When someone sets a goal, they are motivated by the idea of a reward, like getting fit in order to look great in a bikini.
  2. Effort – Once they put a plan into action – like going to the gym – the focus turns to the difficulty or effort required to sustain it.

In other words, when the dream of feeling great in a bikini is replaced with the dread and drudgery of boring gym sessions, workouts are skipped and the goal is not reached.

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What can we do to reach our goals?

According to the research, the key to achievable aims is to consider the effort needed when deciding what to do, and then remembering to focus on the rewards once the time comes to put in the effort.

In other words, it’s best to be realistic about how much effort you are willing to put in, and try making it feel as effortless as possible and keep that end goal in mind.

For example, instead of trying and failing to force yourself to go to the gym at 5am in the morning to pound a treadmill, try a Zumba class straight after work that reignites your love of dancing and helps you avoid the rush-hour traffic.

“Common sense suggests the amount of effort we put into a task directly relates to the level of reward we expect in return. However, building psychological and economic evidence indicates that often high rewards are not enough to ensure people put in the effort they need to achieve their targets,” says lead author of the study Dr Agata Ludwiczak, a Research Fellow from Queen Mary University of London.

“We have found that there isn’t a direct relationship between the amount of reward that is at stake and the amount of effort people actually put in. This is because when we make choices about what effort to put in, we are motivated by the rewards we expect to get back. But at the point at which we come to actually do what we had said we would do, we focus on the level of effort we have to actually put in rather than the rewards we hoped we would get.”

Whatever your goals are, try making getting there as effortless as possible and that means that the more fun and convenient the better.

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Source: Queen Mary University of London via www.sciencedaily.com

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.