Lecture 1: Motivation

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19 Nov 2012
PSYC 471
Sept 6
Why do we fail at our goals and resolutions?
- motivation = drive, energy and direction
- when we think about how we need motivation, we often come to the same strategy: usually we decide
to set goals. this is the most natural and easiest way to renew our motivation
- once we set a goal, something very positive happens {universal action plan: when you have a goal, you
have to focus attention, give effort and persist}
- we usually fail when we make resolutions: how successful are we at achieving our goals?
- about 50% of Americans make resolutions, and from year to year, the same resolutions are the most
popular (quit smoking, lose weight and start exercising)
- these are all people trying to change their lifestyles for the better
- most people who succeed do so as a result of a self-initiated event (not as a treatment, but because
they've made a goal/resolution)
- research suggests that smokers have to try about 8 times before they succeed in quitting. thus it's
often a result of multiple attempts
- most people would acknowledge that they tend to fail in their resolutions. thus a lot of people don't
like setting goals, as it makes them feel bad about themselves.
- that being said, many people learn things from doing so, and it allows them to start a bit further along
the next time
- the main problem with goals is that humans are very habitual creatures and they have a hard time
changing their schedules.
- the thing is that sometimes you succeed, and this is a problem because you have to figure out why you
succeed at some and not at others
- if a goal is inspiring, you may persist because of that
- accomplishing a goal makes us feel euphoric/accomplished
- goals are a path to happiness and emotional well-being, but failing at them puts our well-being at risk
- Norcross et al, 1990: they gathered a large group of adults who were going to make New Years
resolutions, and then they followed up with them to see when they failed
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