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The trick to mastering that New Year’s resolution

Dreading that annual vow to give up your favorite vice for the New Year? Uncertain which empty promise to make in your ever-failing attempts to start the year with a clean slate? Can’t decide how you’ll manage to meet your impossible new pledge?

Then let us help you. We have consulted many expert sources (i.e. Wikipedia) and heard from respected people in a variety of fields (i.e. friends on Facebook.) and combed the self-help literature to come to your rescue.

This exhaustive research led us to this never-fail advice on making New Year’s resolutions to create a new you. By next year, you won’t even need to make a resolution. In fact, you will be so perfect, most people will not like you. But, being perfect, you won’t mind.

Our advice:

  1. Define your goal in concrete terms. Saying, “I will be a better person” is far too general. Better than whom, exactly? Silvio Berlusconi? Mother Theresa? Be more specific. “I will be a better person than my boss, who is really a nag and has a very short temper, and could stand to lose a little weight.” This is a specific goal.
  2. Break your goal into smaller steps. If your goal is: “I will exercise three-times a week in the coming year,” start with: In January, I will raise my arm over my head on Tuesdays. In February, add repetitions (aka “reps”). In March, actually hold something relatively heavy when you raise your arm, such as a small dog or a candlestick. Be careful. Do not drop the dog. By April, you’ll be raising both arms.
  3. Have measurable outcomes by which to track your success. Say your goal is to learn to tango. Measurable goals may be:  (a) People no longer laugh so hard they cry when I am on the dance floor. (b) My instructor stops offering a refund for the course if I would please stop coming. (c) My passport is no longer ripped into small pieces when I land in Buenos Aires to try my new skills in the land of tango. (d) Someone who has seen me dance actually asks me to dance, and I’m pretty sure they’re not just teasing me.
  4. Make the goal adequately challenging. If the goal is too easy to reach, it will have zero heft when you’re standing around the water cooler, bragging to your co-workers. This leads us to ask, do offices even HAVE water coolers anymore? Do people actually stand around them? Is it shadier there or something so you all gather around? Are you worried you might run out of water so you must stay near the cooler? Are you worried about predators, so you find safety in numbers around the water cooler? Can’t you find somewhere else to hang out? Preferably somewhere with baked goods?
  5. Make the goal adequately challenging. (Sorry, we were carried away on No 4.) Don’t say, “I will read all the Mann Booker Prize winners for the last twenty years.” Say, “I will read the prize winners for the last twenty years in French, even if I have to translate the books into French myself.”
  6. Make sure you really want to accomplish your resolution. For instance, pledging to take over the financial management of the European Union is a job no one wants, not even actual Europeans. You don’t really want it either. You’re just showing off.
  7. Express your goal as a positive. Don’t say, “I will quit chewing my nails.” Say, “I will let my nails grow into dagger-like talons.”
  8. Put your goal in writing and make sure all of your friends know about it, so they can help you be accountable. This should pretty much rid you of the burden of friendship, leaving you more time to translate the great English literature into French.

Now, good luck with that resolution! And Happy 2012 to a Better, Brighter You!

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