Good intentions, that’s how you keep it, according to science

December is over again. It’s time to start with good intentions! And whether it’s exercising more, snacking less, or getting up early: Keeping those resolutions isn’t easy. Fortunately, science has the answer.

More exercise is probably the most important thing if you want to stick to a decision. But research shows that many people abandon their training schedule within a few weeks. Australian Edith Queen University I found out with her study The success rate of new training procedures depends on the reasons why people want to exercise.

Goodwill search

For the study, researchers surveyed about 300 Australians over a two-month period. Among other things, they asked about their good intentions, motivation, and mental health. Lead researcher Joan Dixon was surprised by the study’s findings. Scientists have predicted that people who are resilient and persistent are more likely to stick to their goals. But that turned out to be something else. Research has shown that there are other factors that make goodwill successful.

internal and external motivation

Researchers distinguish between two different motivations: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that comes from within you, while extrinsic motivation comes from external factors. With the latter, you can think about the approval of others or the pursuit of an ideal of beauty.

Keep the good intentions.
Keep the routine (Photo: Pexels/Tirachard Kumtanom)

After questioning the subjects, it turned out that core goals had a higher chance of success. In fact, if you work on goals that you consider important, you will become happier and happier. On the other hand, the team discovered that intentions made from an extrinsic motivation have the opposite effect. Participants could barely keep up with the new routine and their mental health He turned back. Therefore, these goals are doomed to fail.

Are good intentions outdated?

According to Professor Dixon, it is not clear why flexibility and perseverance do not play a positive role in maintaining good decisions. The scientist has a possible explanation. People with flexible behavior may find it easier to prioritize other activities that they consider more important. Then their good intentions come second.

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The time of year may also affect this process. People often set overly optimistic and unrealistic goals at the beginning of the year. They usually set these goals when they’re on vacation, so they hit a wall when normal life starts again. However, Dixon remains positive about the Goodwill phenomenon. As long as you set a realistic goal based on your own needs, it can make you very happy and healthy.

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How to keep your good intentions for 2023 according to science

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