4 Motivating TED Talks to Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

Former West Coast Editor
5 min read

Spend less. Save more. Eat less. Exercise more. You know the drill. 2015 is almost upon us and it’s clean-slate time again. Time to write a fresh list of New Year’s resolutions – ones you’ll actually keep this time, the whole year through. Maybe.

See, it’s that last part that’s tricky: sticking to your resolutions. Some 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8 percent of us achieve them, according to a study by the University of Scranton.

Related: The 5 Most Popular TED Talks of All Time

To help you make good on your goals for 2015, whether you want to get physically or financially fit or both -- or just to be a better, happier you all-around -- these inspiring TED Talks will motivate you to stick to your resolutions and, hopefully, see them through. Best of luck and don’t give up! We’re rooting for you, too.

1. Emily Balcetis: Why Some People Find Exercise Harder Than Others

Every year at the start of January, millions of Americans pledge to shed extra pounds and, with hard work and determination, many do. Meanwhile, others don’t – yours truly included. By Valentine’s Day, as social psychologist Emily Balcetis points out in her thought-provoking talk, many already break their New Year’s weight loss goals. Then they feel defeated and give up.  

Related: 4 Motivating TED Talks to Help You Bounce Back From Failure

You might think people don’t attain their ideal weight because they fail to plan and execute effective diet and exercise regimes. Or maybe it seems as though they’re too lazy and to get up off the couch and move. But Balcetis posits out that perhaps they simply harbor the wrong view of exercise. The less in shape a person is, she says, the more likely he is to perceive exercise as difficult. The trick is to change your attitude about exercise and to “keep your eyes on the prize.” Hyper focus on the goal in front of you, Balcetis suggests, not on how hard it is to achieve. Your attitude could really determine your altitude.

2. David Steindl-Rast: Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful.

No matter who you are or where you are, everyone in the world wants the same thing: to be happy. But there’s no magic pill or foolproof recipe for happiness. Most of us want the easy way to bliss, the feel-good shortcut.

Related: Inspiring TED Talks Every Entrepreneur Should Watch

Or perhaps the secret to happiness is more stuff. More money. More, more, more. Yet even some of the richest people often aren’t happy. In his moving speech, Catholic Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast offers a different path to happiness, one that can be patiently drawn from the simple yet potent daily practice of being grateful and sharing your gratitude with others. In his view, happiness is yours if you’re mindful in the moment and “stop, look, go.”    

3. Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve

Believe and you will achieve. It’s more than just psychobabble. In her uplifting talk, Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck explains that mind over matter is real and really works.

Indeed we can grow our brain’s ability to learn and solve problems, Dweck says, even those that are extremely challenging for us to unravel. If you make a mistake along the way -- and we all do -- simply process it, learn from it, correct it and move on.

Related: 3 TED Talks That Will Convince You to Get More Sleep 

Perhaps it’s not that you aren’t smart enough to solve a difficult problem, Dweck says. You merely haven’t solved it...yet. Sounds a bit like making New Year’s resolutions, right? Perhaps you didn’t achieve some of them in the past because you didn’t really believe you could. Now you know better. Believe in yourself and the results will come.

4. Angela Lee Duckworth: The Key to Success? Grit.

Grit -- the elbow grease of motivation -- is undying determination in the face of obstacles, perhaps even those intimidating resolutions we create year after year for our own good. It’s also the single personality trait psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth says separates the successful from the unsuccessful, not one’s I.Q., good looks or charm.

Related: 5 TED Talks That May Change Your View on Life

Stamina. Passion. Perseverance. These are all part of possessing grit, which Duckworth says is the key ingredient in reaching our long-term goals. “Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.”

Related: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers

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