The New Year can inspire feelings of renew and motivation to change, and gyms, trainers, and diet fads are ready to cash in on our New Year’s resolutions.

Well, not this year.  In this article, I share how to create powerful goals and resolutions using four key pillars of meaningful change that can shift our focus away from superficial desires driven by social pressures and trends, and toward action plans that are fueled by your individual beliefs and strengths.

“What’s in it for me?” Your why of motivation and drive

Motivation is your why for involving yourself in certain activities or making particular choices.  When that why is to obtain short-term rewards such as weight loss or more cash there is only one thing that keeps that motivation alive; results.  So when you aren’t seeing the rewards in terms of results, it is easy to fall off the wagon.

We all know how hard it is and how long it can take to see the results we want when it comes to our bodies.  To help us sustain the journey and keep our drive alive, we have to find self-determined reasons to fuel our motivation, based on what is truly important and makes us feel energised on a daily basis.

The meaningful source of motivation becomes the uplifting feedback we receive every day, regardless of how close or how far away we are from the end goal, and over time the result will take care of itself.

In my work, I have realised that it is actually much harder for people to find the meaningful source of motivation than the superficial “weight loss” reasons, which are in our face everywhere we turn.  I formulated the four pillars of meaningful change to provide a guide for exploring one’s self-determined sources for change.

The Four Pillars of Meaningful Change

Four Pillars of Meaningful Change

For example, if connection is something you truly value, when you bring this into your exercise plan, your goal focus might be “to workout with a partner, friend, or meet new people this year.”  When you involve yourself in the activity in this meaningful way on a daily basis, it is naturally energising, making you less vulnerable to falling off the wagon, and the end result to lose weight simply becomes the by-product.

Start with your strengths not your weaknesses

A traditional process of change guided by most trainers, coaches and psychologists focuses on identifying your weaknesses and fixing them.  When we solely focus on our weaknesses we are usually performing activities we are not good at and it de-energises us, contributing to higher levels of stress, frustration, and doubt.  A focus on our strengths is energising; we are typically performing activities we are great at and passionate about.

We are happier, more confident, and six times more likely to be engaged with our job when using our strengths!

Research by positive psychologist, Alex Linley acknowledges that you can develop from working on weaknesses, however, improvement is only possible when you are also working on your strengths.

In your process of change this year, start with a focus on building or maximising your strengths.  Once you achieve momentum, you can tackle your weaknesses.

Here are some pointers to kick-start your strengths focus in the New Year:

  • Recognise what you love to do and do well. Use the strengths for which you want to be known.
  • Reflect on which strengths will be most effective in helping you achieve your goals this year.  Bring your strengths into play.
  • What are your biggest challenges this year?  Which strengths can help you tackle these challenges?

 When you do, I know you will have an incredibly uplifting year.

Dr Jay-Lee Nair PhD | Psychologist MAPS
Book an appointment with Dr Jay-Lee at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre to find out how you can achieve your personal best this year.