Does Announcing a Resolution Make You More or Less Likely To Keep It?

NewYearsResolutions-300x199My recent post, “Beware of “decoy habits,” spurred a lot of conversation, and it’s clear to me that the subject is much more complex, and interesting, than I initially realized.

Readers made many thought-provoking comments. One pointed to research that suggests that talking about a goal can lead to the false feeling of already having achieved that goal. I’ve seen that research–and I’ve also seen research suggesting that talking about a goal can help you stick to it, by making you feel more committed, and also more accountable to the people you’ve told. So it seems to go both ways.

From my own experience–a statistically insignificant yet often helpful data point–this is a point on which people differ. Some do better if they don’t talk it up too much; some do better if they tell others what they want to do.

Exhibit A is my former roommate, who told people that she did yoga, and telling them seemed to convince her that she did, in fact, do yoga. Perhaps discussing it undermined her determination actually to do it.

Exhibit B is my friend who is trying to drink less, who says it’s very helpful to her to announce, “I’m cutting back on my drinking, so I’m only having one glass of wine tonight.” For her, telling people adds an important layer of external accountability.

I’m curious… In your personal experience: Does announcing a resolution make you more likely to keep it, or less likely, or neither?

I don’t think it matters much to me whether I announce it or not–I suspect that’s a result of my “Upholder” nature.  How about you?

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I had a great time doing this interview with Eric Barker, for his site Barking Up the Wrong Tree. We covered a lot of happiness territory. Also, it’s almost time for the May recommendations for my book club! Every month, I suggest one book about happiness, one work of children’s literature, and one eccentric pick. Sign up to make sure you don’t miss them. Because few things give more happiness than a good book.

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About Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestsellers, The Four Tendencies, Better Than Before, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. Gretchen has emerged as one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that true simplicity is far from simple to attain, and that used rightly, money can do a lot to buy happiness—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds.