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People have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions.  It can be overwhelming and frustrating to try and distill an entire year’s potential into a single list, and the process can be a disappointing reminder of what wasn’t accomplished the previous year.  Some people feel that the whole concept is a little OCD to begin with.

I myself love making resolutions at the beginning of each year.  I enjoy thinking about the possibility in the coming year, and imagining all the things I could do.

Don’t get me wrong.  Like a lot of folks, I overshoot.  Honestly, I achieve maybe 50% of my resolutions each year, but that’s not the point.  I think that’s perfectly OK.  You should be allowed to feel like anything is possible at the beginning of the year right?

I’ve come up with some tips for making New Year’s Resolutions.  Take them with a grain of salt.  They may not help you accomplish your resolutions, but hopefully, they’ll help you have some fun making them.

Here they are:

  1. Go big
    Don’t be afraid to add a resolution to your list just because you’re worried you might not accomplish it. There’s no reason to admit defeat before the starting gun even sounds.  Think of your resolutions as a best-case scenario of what you want the year to look like and go for it.  January 1st is for dreaming, not for second-guessing.
  2. Diversify
    For the same reason that you don’t want a financial portfolio filled only with telecom stock, make sure there’s a lot of variety in your goals for the year. Have some small ones and some big ones.  Make some “one-shot” accomplishments that you can complete and check off your list and others that are ongoing all year long.
  3. Write them down
    If you have more than 3 resolutions, you’ll likely forget just what they were by March so document them. Writing down your resolutions can also be a really fun and creative process. Go to a coffee shop, and take some time.  Bring your colored pencils.
  4. Speaking of which, use a pencil
    No one knows what the future holds, so it’s crazy to think that you can map out an entire year ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to trim, add and change resolutions as the year goes on.  Maybe you resolved to land a 720 on a snowboard, and then your job moved you to Florida.    Maybe you wanted to have a vegetable garden this year, but you got a great opportunity to spend the summer in Paris.  Resolutions should be about unlimited potential, not about locking you into a box …unless you’ve resolved to spend more time locked in a box.
  5. Embrace the fear
    I think it’s a good idea to have at least one resolution that scares you a little. I don’t mean one that scares you because it seems difficult.  I mean one that scares you because it’s scary.  Get up on stage at a poetry slam.  Ask your boss for a raise.  Raise your hand first.  Skydive!  Aim a resolution square at your fears, and shoot.  Scary equals exhilarating.
  6. Fix the game
    Do you like checking things off of lists? Have you ever added something that you’ve already completed to your “to do” list, just so you could cross it out?  Well, I think it’s a good idea to have one resolution that is fairly easy to accomplish early on just to get the ball rolling.  It’s encouraging to see progress and it’s not cheating.  You own the game.  You own the league.
  7. Have fun
    Your resolutions should not simply be a laundry list of shortcomings and past failures. Making resolutions should be fun and encouraging, so add some craziness in there.  Sure, we all use the New Year to think about improving and fixing, but there’s nothing that says you can’t resolve to prank your friend, memorize all the words to “Rapper’s Delight” or learn a card trick.
  8. Sanity check
    Make sure your goals support each other, particularly if there are a lot of them. At a bare minimum, don’t create goals that undermine each other.  Resolving to watch less TV would go hand in hand with a resolution to exercise more.  Conversely it might be problematic to resolve to spend less time at work but also to get that new promotion.  If you see common themes and a lot of repetition in your list, you’re probably on to something.
  9. Give yourself a gold star
    When you accomplish a resolution, acknowledge it. Most people beat themselves up for not meeting a goal, but barely take notice when they do.  It doesn’t have to be a giant celebration.  Take yourself out for coffee.  Buy a special red pen to check off the list.  Do a little jig in your office.  You deserve it!
  10. Rule of 10
    If you end up with 9 resolutions, make a 10th. No list should end with the number 9.  It’s just weird.
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