It usually depends mostly on your will power. Most of us talk about making promises to stop bad habits and/or start good habits on the eve of the New Year. Why? Maybe it is because this is the ideal time, a time when we start with a new calendar, full of hope and feeling optimistic.
You probably know how it works. Or rather, how it doesn't work. You write your new year's resolutions on pieces of paper or in your shiny new diary and stuff them in a drawer someplace. Then, by the time the New Year rolls around, you have conveniently forgotten all about those resolutions. Or, a few days or weeks into the New Year, you weaken and give in to your bad habit(s). "Oh, just one cigarette won't hurt," you say. And ten cigarettes later you know you are hooked, back on the habit. "I deserve some more chocolate cake," you say. And then you stop weighing yourself on the scale.
If you really, truly, sincerely want to make a few New Year's resolutions and stick to them, there is one way that may work for you: go public. Use the fear of public shame and financial penalties you'll suffer if you ever stray from your promises.
Here's how. On a piece of paper write your resolution notice in big, bold letters. Also write how others can help you stick with your resolutions. For example, it might read something like this:
MIKE'S NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2006
1. QUIT SMOKING
2. LOSE WEIGHT
3. BE MORE PATIENT
IF YOU EVER SEE MIKE
OR BEING IMPATIENT,
PLEASE TELL HIM
TO QUIT IMMEDIATELY
If you want the penalty for breaking a resolution to be more expensive, offer anyone a monetary reward if they catch you being bad. So, your penalty expressed in your resolution notice might read: "Mike promises to pay one dollar to anyone who catches him smoking, eating too much or being impatient."
Then duplicate the resolution notice. Write it or type and print it on at least 10 pieces of paper. Then, on the eve of the New Year, stick these public declarations all over the rooms where you live so that others can see them. Stick them on doors, windows, walls, counter tops, everywhere.
Do the same thing at the place where you work. Stick them around your workstation, on the edges of your PC monitor, on filing cabinets, on the company's employee notice board, on bathroom doors, wherever possible (and if permissible).
And go online and declare your resolutions in a chat room, on a forum, even on OhmyNews, in the comments section, right underneath this article.
Now, this maybe a good time to ask yourself: what resolutions do you want to make and keep? Here's a list of ideas to help you make up your mind. Good luck.
[x] TICK ONE OR MORE
[ ] Be less shy
[ ] Be more assertive
[ ] Be more polite
[ ] Chuck out old files cluttering my office
[ ] Cut up my credit cards & quit squandering money
[ ] Diet to reduce my bulging waistline
[ ] Eat healthier food
[ ] Exercise regularly
[ ] Learn another language
[ ] Quit drinking so much alcohol
[ ] Quit nagging my life partner
[ ] Quit smoking
[ ] Save more money for a rainy day
[ ] Spend less time @ work, more time with family & friends
[ ] Spend less time dozing on the couch
[ ] Spend less time gossiping on the phone with others
[ ] Spend less time surfing on the Net
[ ] Spend less time watching mediocre television programs
[ ] Stop chewing my nails
[ ] Stop loafing in bed long after the alarm clock has rung
[ ] Stop lying
[ ] Tidy up my clothes
[ ] Volunteer to help a cause
[ ] Wash my hands more frequently
By the way, this reporter admits to having made a lifelong resolution that has been very effective year after year: never make resolutions. It is so easy that way.