The Science of Resolve

Double exposure of the new year dug into the sand and the lovely Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier, Wrightsville Beach, NC

A famous experiment at Cornell University suggests that when we OWN something, we invest a part of ourselves into it, and it then becomes a part of us. In the experiment, students were given coffee mugs. Then they were asked to trade the coffee bars for delectable chocolates. The majority of the students declined the trade even if they expressed a great love of chocolate. However, different students first given decadent chocolates and then asked to trade for coffee mugs ALSO declined the trade. Apparently, it was less about what the student preferred, and more about what the student possessed. The researchers called this “the endowment effect”. The endowment effect occurs when a person takes ownership of an object, responsibility for a person, or an idea, a goal, or a resolution. Curiously, just the reasonable expectation we would eventually own something, creates the sense of ownership and investment.

How can this information be carried over into a new year? Should goals be set? Should resolutions be made? Science suggests that considering what you would like your life to include, and reflecting on how you desire you days to go, and then breaking these large, ‘big picture goals’ into smaller, manageable and more quickly achievable and measurable goals, can improve positive mood, more balanced emotions, increased motivation and increased sense of self worth.

What if your goal is to live at the beach? Such a goal is not always a quickly achievable pursuit, but it IS achievable. Studies show that if you break a goal down into its smaller parts, it will have a remarkable effect on your life. Making manageable goals about the things you want, creates ownership within you and moves you forward to owning the life of your dreams.

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