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New Year’s Resolutions 101

Vanessa Wolf wishes you a very happy, healthy, and successful new year.

By Vanessa Wolf

As we prepare for another trip around the sun, those dreaded three words often rear their ugly heads.

No, not “Auld Lang Syne.” No one really knows what that song is about anyway. Why Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” didn’t take over as the official song of New Year’s is a mystery for the ages: “should old acquaintance be forgot” it is.

No, what we’re talking about are “New Year’s Resolutions,” those pesky – but potentially invaluable – lists of goals that some folks resolve to never make.

In Mark McCormick’s 1986 book, What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, the author studies a phenomenon in which 3% of Harvard MBAs ended up making 10 times as much as the other 97% combined. The answer was boiled down to one simple difference: writing down your goals for the future.

In 1979, interviewers asked new graduates of the Harvard MBA program whether or not they had defined their goals and found that:

  • 84% had no specific goals at all
  • 13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
  • 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

In 1989, the interviewers again interviewed those same graduates of that class and found that:

  • The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all.
  • The 3% who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% put together.

It’s not all about being filthy rich, but in the spirit of helping you achieve your dreams in 2013, here are a few tips while jotting down those New Year’s resolutions.

Be Realistic

We’re not saying you won’t win a Grammy award this year, but maybe you should write and record that album first?

Want to write your memoirs? Commit to a page a day.

Dream of spending next Thanksgiving in Bali? Figure out how much money you’ll need, and draft a structured plan for saving it.

Define Clear Goals

“Be happy” is a great resolution, but how will you know if you’ve made it?

Maybe take some time thinking about moments you’ve felt truly happy and what factors contributed to that experience…and then get back into it.

“Spend more time with friends.”

“Go to the beach every Sunday.”

“Read the kids a bedtime story three times a week.”

These kinds of clear objectives will get you closer to the joy you seek that much faster.

Consider Baby Steps

If your daydreams of having the body of a supermodel are often interrupted by the sound of your own chewing, you might want to ease into a total life overhaul.

Resolutions like “Cut out bread,” “See a nutritionist,” or “Work out twice a week” are far more achievable – and likely to work – than “Lose weight” or  “Fit into a size 2.”

Have a Plan

“Quit smoking” is an excellent resolution, but cold turkey is not for most people. Talk to your doctor and consider additional support like patches, prescriptions like Chantix, and hypnosis or hypnotherapy. The Hawaii Tobacco Quit Line (800-QUIT-NOW) offers free help including coaching and patches, as well.

Reach for the Stars…and Then Focus on the Moon

Start out with a bucket list: it’s go-big-or-go-home time.

Let that sit for a few hours or even a couple days, and then return to it.

What really matters you right now? What items light you up or fill you with excitement? Focus on those. Having three big, well-defined and exciting resolutions is far more achievable – and inspiring – than an inventory that reads like a “Honey Do” punch list.

Go Public

That’s right: we’re suggesting a full self-reveal.

You’ve gone to the trouble of defining clear goals that really matter to you. You have a plan or at least a solid grasp of how to get started. Tell the world. Have your support system help you stay accountable. Put that list on the fridge like an A+ report card, talk about them on your blog, and keep a copy in your wallet.

Energy flows where attention goes…so keep yours on what truly matters to you.

What are you still sitting there reading this for?

Go.

Start making that list and seize the new year!

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