How To (Finally!) Keep Your New Year's Resolutions
How You Do That Thing You Do
When people talk about change, they often emphasize affective factors, which shape our feelings, and cognitive differences, which influence thinking. They overlook patterns that relate to doing. According to Kathy Kolbe, a specialist in learning strategies, conation is the aspect of human consciousness that determines how we tackle any task. She has identified four conative styles:
- "Quick start" adherents swing directly into action, making creative discoveries—and mistakes—through trial and error.
- "Fact finders" need information; they're the friends who'll research every relevant factoid about any task they're preparing to undertake.
- "Follow through" people naturally use methodical systems: They set up files for every receipt and alphabetize their refrigerator contents.
- "Implementers" focus on physical objects and environments; they figure out things by building models or grabbing the appropriate tools. They respond better to bricks and mortar than castles in the air.
- Marlene, who favors quick-start action, leaped straight into an organic raw-food diet. Two weeks into her regimen, her hunger and disgruntlement triggered a backslide to a menu of cupcakes and beer, which Marlene maintains today.
- Ellie, who prefers the fact-finder conative style, never actually began dieting or exercising. She's still researching and evaluating fitness programs, using a process so detailed she'll finish her analysis next July (at the earliest).
- Karla, as a follow-through, has a zest for systems, so she joined a reputable weight loss program, which was perfect—except that she hated it. The weekly weigh-ins terrified her, and the prescribed food had all the epicurean appeal of bat guano. After a month, she began sleep-eating peanut butter.
- Chip, with his love of the concrete implementer strategy, drastically cut his food intake while quadrupling his level of exercise. Back spasms soon landed him in bed, where he began inhaling polymer-based foodlike products from the minimart to ease his frustration.
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