How to… keep your New Year resolution

1.    It’s all about picking the right resolution. For instance – ‘I will lose 10 kgs’ or ‘I will go to the gym everyday’ – is just not going to happen. You know it, I know it and your gym instructor knows it too. On the other hand, ‘I will not waste money on unused gym memberships’ or ‘No more fad diets for me’ are perfectly doable. And they make you feel vaguely virtuous at the same time. See what I mean?

2.    As a corollary, it pays to be deliberately vague while wording your resolutions. In other words, give yourself wriggle room. “I will wake up at 7 a.m. everyday so I can go for a walk” – not good. “I will wake up earlier in the mornings” – good. Because 8.29 a.m. is earlier than 8.30 a.m. and you did keep your resolution, so there!

3.    If you must make impossible resolutions that give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach even as you make them (“No more chocolate chip cookies!” and such), keep them to yourself. We’re entering slightly murky ethical waters here, so pay close attention. The idea lies in this deeply philosophical question – if you break a resolution that no one knew about in the first place, was it ever really broken?

4.    Ok, so you have an over-developed conscience and Tip No. 3 makes you uncomfortable on various levels (“I’m just fooling myself” etc.). Well, in that case, you simply need to enlist extra help – your family, your closest friends, you colleagues, et al. Whine to them about your resolution everyday. Ask them to cheer you on and support you by giving up alcohol/chocolates/burgers along with you. Whine some more. They’ll either end up actually helping or (more likely) beg you to just give it up please. Either way, you’re home free.

5.    Another sure-fire recipe – make resolutions for others (e.g. “Will teach the dog new tricks”, or “Will support the husband in quitting smoking”). The advantages are, of course, many. You get to feel the gentle glow of the selfless do-gooder because, after all, you’re doing something for someone else. And even if it fails, well, it’s hardly your fault if the dog/husband/friend/parent wouldn’t cooperate, is it?

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