Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

A statue of Janus at the Vatican

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you verbalize them? Do you write them down? Do you keep them secret? And I guess the big question….do you really mean them?

The tradition of making resolutions started way, way back in 153 B.C.! Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new*.
The early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year and since the United States was established as a Christian country the tradition has been present from the beginning.
January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had. Of course that is if you use the Gregorian Solar Calendar.

A key element to a New Year’s Resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year, and new beginnings. We all know about resolutions and we all know that most of us break them, sometimes in an amazing short amount of time. But, it is good to “resolve” to better ourselves or be better people or start with a goal and give ourselves over to trying to make them stick.

I personally have found ways of helping me stick to my resolutions. First, for me, my resolutions are secret. I know you say, well then how do we know if you kept them? Well, frankly my dear, it’s none of your business if I do or I don’t! That’s the thing, my resolution is for my benefit, not just to tell the world what I need to do for my own improvement and it’s what works for me. It is the way I have found to make my resolutions do-able for me.

Your new year’s resolution is for your benefit and your goals and that is the primary reason to make them. A real commitment to yourself and your resolution is the best way to keep your resolution intact. I can understand if you feel the need to tell someone for support. I have felt that way in certain situations so what I did then was to only tell one person who is close to me and who will actually give me that support that I need. I also know of people who need a support group, so what works for one will not work for all. It’s a case of “know thyself” isn’t it!?

Some recent research stated that while 52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals.
A separate study in 2007 by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol showed that 78% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends. I guess I am not one of those. I like the method the men use too. I write down my resolution and then actually write down how I did on keeping that resolution every week. I put the pressure on myself and I renew my resolution each time I write it down. Along with how I did, I write down what made that week good or bad and also what I think I need to make my success more attainable too.

Another thing is to make your resolution simple and achievable, especially to start. Once you reach a simple goal then you can resolve to make the next step and it will be easier since you have already achieve the first goal! A goal achieved, even an easy one, is where motivation can come from. Motivation is key to success!
Another suggestion is to be sure your resolution is specific, not vague! The more specific the objective, the greater the likelihood of success.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your resolutions:

1. Be realistic! Don’t expect too much of yourself. Make your resolutions achievable.

2. Outline your plan, write down ways to help you keep your goals, how to deal with temptations, what you need to motivate you. Write down your short term goals and then your long term goals and keep track of your progress.

3. Make a list of your reasons for this change; your health, your peace, your appearance, your family, your needs. Be positive. Then write down what would be bad or negative if you don’t reach your goals.These are your pros and cons. These are the things you can use for your ongoing motivation. This would be a good list to post on your fridge or on your dresser/bathroom mirror, maybe on your desk at work. If it’s too personal then in a diary would help and still it will be there for a reminder and inspiration and that all important motivation.

4. If you need to, tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change and to help achieve your goal. Or find yourself a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and motivate each other.

5. Do reward yourself along the way. This doesn’t mean that you can eat an entire carton of ice cream if your resolution is to diet. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to some activity that you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution. If you’ve been sticking to your promise to eat better, for example, perhaps your reward could be going to a movie with a friend or buying that new healthy foods cookbook to expand your menus, improving your chances of success.

6. Track your progress on a calendar. Keep track of each small success you make toward reaching your larger goal. Remember, short-term goals are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help keep you motivated.

7. Don’t give up if you back slide occasionally and don’t beat yourself up! Obsessing over the occasional slip won’t help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take each day one at a time, one week at a time and then eventually it will become a good habit and part of who you are.

8. Focus on the behavioral change more than on the end goal if you are trying to change bad habits for good ones. Focus on your actual behavior will help you feel in control of your life. You will gain satisfaction from making sensible choices several times throughout the day. Mentally congratulate yourself with each little success so your remain positive about making good decisions and changing your behavior.

9. Make tasks non-negotiable. People who are most successful at implementing such changes are those who make their tasks non-negotiable. For example, if you debate with yourself at 6:30 a.m. whether you feel like getting up to exercise, you will probably opt for staying in bed for another half hour. But if getting up for exercise is no more negotiable than getting up for work, then you’ll do it regardless of how you feel about it. The same goes for whatever resolution you make. One can always come up with the old excuses not to do these things. However, if you make a non-negotiable decision that’s based on a sound logical reason rather than on how you feel at the moment, you will be much more likely to be successful. And take a look at that Pro and Con list you already made, remember, motivation!

10. Do it now and do it for yourself! If you’re waiting for a more convenient time to begin behavioral change, it’s not going to happen. It’s almost never convenient to change ingrained habits. Now is just as convenient as any time right? And if you begin now rather than later, you’ll have a jump on a more satisfying, healthier, happier, successful or richer future.

So go ahead, make your realistic, motivated, self improving, and achievable New Year’s Resolution!

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New Year’s Resolutions!!

For the year 2012, the top 5 resolutions, as identified by a SlideShare survey are:
Be financially-savvy
Read at least one book per month
Eat properly
Get enough sleep
Keep a journal of awesome moments

Popular resolutions according to the U.S. Government:
Drink Less Alcohol
Eat Healthy Food
Get a Better Education
Get a Better Job
Get Fit
Lose Weight
Manage Debt
Manage Stress
Quit Smoking
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Save Money
Take a Trip
Volunteer to Help Others

AND there is an APP for that! Take a look at some Top New Year’s resolutions and the apps that will help achieve them. And, best of all, they are free.

1. Get Fit
Want a personal trainer without having to make a call? Body Fitness is for you. Get those washboard abs with your calendar-style exercise plan. Body Fitness creates a personal workout plan to improve you results.

2. Quit smoking
Quitter is like having a personal motivator. It records how many days you have been off cigarettes and how much money you have saved to keep you on track.

3. Spend more time with the family
Everguide helps you plan your next family activity with a list of events going on across the country. Whether it’s music, fashion, history , sport or food events that take your fancy, this app lists them all and offers maps to help you get there. You’ll never be stuck for ideas again.

4. Have more fun
Living Social offers savings on hotels, restaurants, adventure activities and beauty therapies for all major Australian cities and surrounding areas. Save money for free with this super app.

5. Lose weight
Fighting the bulge is always a battle but with Calorie Track you always know how you are going. Customized for your own height, weight and goal weight, Calorie Track monitors your daily progress, and if you fall off the wagon, helps you get back on track.

6. Run a marathon
Track your training with iMapMyRun. This app monitors your route and tracks your distance traveled and pace. Compare your results with other runners and motivate yourself to improve.

7. Get out of debt
Monitor your expenses and stick to a budget with Expenses Lite. Set out in an easy format, this app is user-friendly even for the least-savvy money manager. See exactly where your money is going, when your bills are coming in. Another one, though it’s not free, is Pay Off Debt, it provides a good template for users to track and manage all current balances and debts. It only costs $3.99, a sound investment if it helps you keep your resolution! Using an intuitive interface and the debt snowball method, this app lets you prioritize debts and see estimated times left to pay off each one. You can plan monthly payments for each and view progress bars as you begin chipping away at what’s owed. Based on your payment schedule, the app will also provide you with a date for when you are completely debt-free.

8. Learn something new
It is always good to learn something new and speaking another language is a handy tool. Free French Tutor allows you to learn wherever you are. With audio for all words and flash cards you are bound to be fluent in the language of love in time for spring vacation!

9. Take a trip
Getting away is often so hard. Jetsetter makes it all easier, providing a personal travel agent at your fingertips. Search and plan your holiday at your leisure with trip advice and pictures of thousands of destinations. For booking flights, Skyscanner has great deals.

10. Get a better job with
As one of the largest job search sites available, the app is a great complement for anyone with a Monster account (which is free to register) and gives users access to the same listings they’d find online. The app automatically syncs with your web-based account and enables you to access saved job listings, resumes, saved searches and more.

11. You found the job, now ace the interview!
The expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” couldn’t be truer when it comes to this opportunity, which is likely the only time you have to sell yourself and demonstrate why you are a fit for the job. The What Color is Your Parachute? app is a complement to the eponymous job-seekers’ “bible” and walks users through the job interview process and how to nail it. Tips on interview questions and questions to ask are featured, as well as top 10 mistakes to avoid. It’s a good read for anyone who is preparing for a big interview.

12. Single and looking to date more?
Unlike other dating apps that require you to have an existing subscription to its web-based site, or are sketchier and only use GPS-navigation to track “singles near you,” Dating DNA is a free app and service that matches people based on compatibility scores. When you are deemed compatible by the app, based on both your ratings, you are then able to view each other’s profiles and connect. The app also provides “at-a-glance” compatibility scoring and dating potential indicators to help you determine if your potential mate is worth pursuing.

13. Made the date and now you need advice?
If you need help in the love department and are looking for advice on what to do in certain situations, wikiHow’s Love Survival Kit is a good resource to have. There is plenty of information and dating advice for categories like “Awkward Situations” (ex. Escape Cuddling in Bed); “Breaking Up” (ex. Keep a Friendship After a Breakup) or “Relationship Skills” (ex. Stop Being Needy). Some of articles can be more funny than useful, but then again, sometimes with dating, people need all the help they can get.

14. Getting on top of your finances with
The app allows you to check your budget on the go and find how much you have left to work with and what will put you over the top.  The only thing recommended is that you create your account on the website before you start using the app, since you have to sync all of your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, etc., which can be a little time consuming on the iPhones itty-bitty buttons.

15. Get a personal assistant!
With Siri Personal assistant for iPhone the voice technology that serves as the foundation of the Siri app was so promising that Apple acquired the company earlier this year.  This app is delightful.  By simply speaking a command into your phone, Siri will come back with a list of results and further actions you can take.  For example: it’s Monday.  You have back-to-back meetings, and you have to pick up your clothes from the dry-cleaners, pick up some more dog food, and take the kids to soccer practice.  Oh, no!  You forgot it’s your anniversary!  You have to make a reservation at that restaurant you and your significant other love so much.  With Siri, you simply speak your command into the app: “Table for two at Crush 29 for today,” and the app uses your phone’s GPS to find the restaurant you’re referring to and give you the option of selecting a time and reserving a table with one tap.  Siri is—without a doubt—the new frontier of mobile search technology, and it’s awesome and who couldn’t use this kind of help!

This one’s not free but it’s worth the $2.99 if it works for you!
Making the change and tracking it.
For a systematic approach to meeting your New Year’s resolutions, plan it out with the Big Change app for iPhone. Whether you want to exercise more, drink less or save money, the Big Change app has a setting for you. The best part, you get to visually keep track of your progress with Big Change’s “Progress Tracker” section and even update your Facebook and Twitter statuses straight from the app to reflect your advancement. Motivational push messages will also cheer you along the way.

Remember, we are here for you, all year long!