The New Year’s Resolutions tradition began back in 153 B.C. where Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar.

Since he had two faces, Janus could look toward the future, or back on the past. Because of this, Janus became the symbol for resolutions. At the New Year, many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and resolved to do better in the coming year.

Now we make resolutions to better ourselves and to become better people. The problem is that we usually break our resolutions within the first two weeks of January and give up.

Why not adjust the resolutions so we have a better chance of keeping them? For instance, rather than resolving not to over eat, resolve to not over eat too often. If you’re a smoker and want to stop, set a reasonable time to be smoke free, but if you slip, use it as a learning tool. Think back. What caused you to slip? Then be more careful the next time that situation arises. With smoking, the urge to smoke leaves you in five minutes or less. Just tell yourself, “I’m not going to smoke today.” And then do it again tomorrow, and the next day. After two days without smoking, the chemical urges have ended and all that’s left is the habit. Now tell yourself, “I don’t smoke anymore. That’s the habit talking.” Recognize the habits and deny them one by one until you’ve beaten all of them.

If you want to lose weight, set reasonable limits and expectations. Losing a pound (~455 grams) a week is an easy enough goal, but if you don’t make it every week, figure out what you did to fail. (You can lie to us, but you can’t lie to yourself.) A recommended way to lose weight is to be extremely conscious of what you eat. Actually write down what you have for every meal and determine how many calories you had. By knowing what you had, you know how well you’re doing.

If you have a habit of overspending, again, write down each purchase. Pay in cash rather than with a credit card. Actually seeing the money change hands can help you to realize that you only have so much to spend each pay/allowance period.

Gas/petrol prices are crazy. If you can walk rather than drive or ask your parents for a ride, why not walk?

iTunes are convenient, but they can be expensive after a while. Why not just make a list of your favorites on YouTube and listen to them there? Better yet, you have a computer. Listen to BBC Radio online. It’s available around the world and we all listen to the same music for the most part, so listen in.

With all of these suggestions, YOU have to take charge. A habit is created by doing the same thing for as few as 30 days. So start a new habit. When it becomes a habit, start another. Remember, if you deny yourself anything that thing will be what you want the most. Nothing that you do today should be off limits, with the single exception of smoking.

If you have any suggestions, post them online for all of us to read.

Published January 1, 2012

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