Another year ended and a new one began, and again I made no New Year's resolutions. I stopped making them a long time ago. Why? Because I was never good at keeping them. Well, I could keep one for a day. Maybe a week.
Without making a resolution, I thought about what I wanted for my life in 2012. It comes down to this: I want to increase the spread of my message about making life meaningful, and to make my own life an example of meaningfulness. I considered that to accomplish this I must answer a few questions: What am I going to do to grow? What am I going to do to nurture my relationships? What am I going to do to develop and fulfill purpose? What will I do to build character? I acknowledged that I cannot continue doing what I did in 2011 if I want something different and more in 2012. I had to change.
And so I started the change process. Ordinarily I would stay home on New Year's Eve. Instead, I accepted an invitation to celebrate with friends. I almost said no but reminded myself that I had to do things differently. I began a new needlepoint project on January 1. I cooked a dish I had never cooked before. I revised my office record keeping system. I put forth a greater effort to complete unfinished projects. I started getting rid of things I have not used in years and would likely not use in the forseeable future. Little by little I am changing the way I do things.
What will you do to make 2012 different or better than the last year?
There is no point in resolving to do something or to stop doing something if you don't change the circumstances of your life. This new year will not be any different from the last if you are not willing to change what you do. Even a small variation can change the course of your journey. The key is having the motivation to change.
Your action is the product of your desire and the reward you expect to receive--that is, Action = Desire times Reward. If you have no desire to act, you will not act. If you perceive no reward to be gained, you will not act. If your desire is low, you will not act with enthusiasm unless you see a big reward.
Rewards can be extrinsic or intrinsic. An extrinsic reward is something outside yourself. Something tangible or material. Money, possessions, positions, titles, awards, praise, and fame are extrinsic. They come from outside you. They come from someone else. You will be induced to act based on the value you place on these extrinsic rewards.
Extrinsic rewards serve as incentives to get you to act or to work harder. If your desire to act is dependent on the incentive offered, your actions will be under the control of the person who offers the incentive. I recently heard a news story about a health maintenance organization that is providing an incentive for its members to lose weight; they are paying them to do so. Given these financially hard times, there will doubtless be many who will resolve to lose weight based on the offered incentive. If the incentive is taken away, they will give up the weight-losing project.
It takes motivation to keep you acting even when you have no incentive. Motivation is based on intrinsic rewards--rewards such as self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment. When you are motivated to act, your desire to act is independent of external factors. When you act based on intrinsic rewards, you will have the motivation to overcome external barriers. If your desire is sufficiently strong, you need no incentive, just opportunity.
To be motivated is to have a compelling reason to act. When you lose enthusiasm or the verve to act, you can regain motivation by reminding yourself of the compelling reason to act. Why do you do what you do? Why do you want what you want? When you have the answers to these questions, you have identified your reason to act. You can then determine if that reason is compelling enough for you. Your reasons may be for self-preservation, self-gratification, self-esteem, or self-fulfillment.
Consider what you want in your life in 2012. Are you motivated to get it, or will it take some incentives for you to pursue it? To get what you want, even though you don't know what will happen this year, you must be motivated to act. Motivated to change--to change for you, not for someone else.