With New Year’s Day here, thoughts have turned to that most annual of topics: the New Year’s resolution.

People are pledging to stop smoking, eat better, lose weight, drink less, exercise more, spend more time with family, manage their time better, read more, be more productive at work, etc.

Rarely, do we hear of anyone resolving to be less healthy or less productive; though that may often be the reality waiting in the coming weeks.

No, New Year’s resolutions are typically optimistic promises. They are hopes condensed into the idea that a new year represents a fresh start on the calendar as well as in our lives.

Before plunging into a list of New Year’s resolutions, perhaps, first, some time should be devoted to recapping the successes and, likely of more importance, the failures of past resolutions. How can a person know how far he should leap, after all, without understanding how much solid ground is behind him?

How successful have past resolutions proven? Why did some succeed while others failed? Was a resolution made without a commitment? Did too many resolutions make a commitment to any of them impossible?

New Year’s resolutions are often regarded with scorn because past ones have been based more on pie-in-the-sky fantasy rather than in realistic and pragmatic approaches.

Keep your list of resolutions short or make it only one. Establish goals to accomplish your resolution. Plan how it may be accomplished. Allow yourself a little wiggle room — too often resolutions fail because people build a towering brick wall to overcome rather than a series of hurdles.

Possibly, most importantly, be ready to forgive yourself and move on. Even the most committed resolution-maker may have a day when the commitment fails. Don’t view it as a failure. Don’t make a misstep an excuse to quit. Forgive yourself and do better the next day.

And with that, best wishes to one and all for a Happy New Year.

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