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New Years Resolutions - An Engineering Approach

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the slashcode-should-strip-colons-when-apropos dept.

Christmas Cheer 144

Hugh Pickens writes "Four out of five people who make New Year's resolutions will eventually break them and a third won't even make it to the end of January says the NY Times. But experts say the real problem is that people make the wrong resolutions. The typical resolution often reflects a general desire. To engineer better behavior, it is more productive to focus on a specific goal. '"Many clients make broad resolutions, but I advise them to focus the goals so that they are not overwhelmed," says Lisa R. Young. "Small and tangible one-day-at-a-time goals work best."' Here are some resolutions that experts say can work: To lose weight, resolve to split an entree with your dining partner when dining out. To improve your fitness, wear a pedometer and monitor your daily activity. To improve family life, resolve to play with your kids at least one extra day a week. To improve your marriage, find a new activity you and your spouse both enjoy such as taking a pottery class. On a lighter note: What was Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution?"

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the solution to this age old problem (2, Funny)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21875896)

Is to make new years resolutions retrospectively.

Those who have access to a time machine of course do not need this and can go about it the oldfashioned way.

Re:the solution to this age old problem (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876054)

Something like this [explosm.net] you mean?

Steve Job's New Years resolution (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21875900)

The same resolution he makes every year, Pinky. TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

Re:Steve Job's New Years resolution (3, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21875946)

No, no, you need to update that for the Google generation:

"What are we resolving to do this year, Brin?"

"Same thing we always do, Larry ... try and take over the world!"

Re:Steve Job's New Years resolution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876342)

Little known fact: Sergey Brin owns a pet mouse he calls Pinkie.

They're Pinkie and the Brin.
Pinkie and the Brin.
One is a genius,
the other's in sin

To prove their company's worth
they'll overthrow the Earth

They're Pinkie
Pinkie and the
Brin Brin Brin Brin
Brin Brin Brin Brin

Just one word... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877530)

"Try"?

Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (5, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21875938)

I'm guessing 2560 x 1600.

To lose weight, resolve to split an entree with your dining partner when dining out.
Loose weight and look cheap at the same time, woohoo!

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (2, Insightful)

Lars Clausen (1208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876338)

My now-wife and I actually did this back when we were still dating & in the US -- the portions there are just so fricking huge that we couldn't always finish them even when we split them. Loose weight and save money at the same time, woohoo!

-Lars

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876500)

No kidding ... as an American myself I have to say it's ridiculous. I'm sure it has to do with economies of scale: the greater the quantities they buy, the lower the unit price, and the greater their profits. Or maybe we just want to be fat, and they're only giving us what we want. Maybe both, I don't know.

Does make it hard to keep trim though, if you eat out much.

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (2, Insightful)

Plaid Phantom (818438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877226)

My guess is that those restaurants want to be able to justify their prices, so instead of dropping prices to reflect the portions, they increase portions to match the prices, which probably makes them more money than otherwise. (As you said, economy of scale).

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876580)

Uh, not even us Americans can finish these portions. (I'm from Texas, and I run marathons in my spare time. If anybody should be able to finish these portions, it's me.)

The trick is simply to just take home the half you don't eat. When you pay US$12 for an entree, it's kind of assumed you get 2 or 3 meals out of it.

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877724)

So what does a main course do, feed you for a month? Entrees are meant to whet the appetite, not feed a family. Still, it sounds better than here where the more expensive meals get the smaller they get. Now that's truly inexplicable.

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (3, Informative)

quenda (644621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877922)

> So what does a main course do, feed you for a month? Entrees are meant to whet the appetite

Note for non-Americans: In the US, "entree" means main course, rather than a starter.
Yes, I know - it doesn't make any sense (french for "entry"), but thats the way it is.

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876412)

I resolve to teach slashdotters how to spell "lose".

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (4, Funny)

rhizome (115711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876492)

I resolve to teach slashdotters how to spell "lose".

People probably won't pay much attention until you start spelling "loose" properly.

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876932)

Yeah, your probably right.

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21877354)

Maybe this was intended to get moderated +1,Funny rather than +1,Informative, but... actually, the GP spelt "lose" correctly, given the context. (And don't even think about complaining about my use of "spelt" rather than "spelled".)

Re:Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (2, Funny)

hyfe (641811) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877046)

I resolve to teach slashdotters how to spell "lose".
God luck.

Wear a pedometer??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21875960)

Wouldn't that make me a pedo-phile?
hahahaha. I'll be here all week and please remember to tip your waitress

The most important resolution for an engineer: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21875980)

Don't work with Niggers!

Happy new year and God bless!

Obligatory Engineering Pun (4, Funny)

rbrander (73222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21875996)

OK, my New Year's Resolution is 1920x1200.

I swear, no more fiddling around with 4:3 aspect ratios of the past. The CRT hits the junk pile in 2004, replaced by LCD, so help me.

Re:Obligatory Engineering Pun (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876060)

And when you get that HDTV, just make sure you don't get any rhythm games that output in 480i, because the lag will make them unplayable because the upscaling is designed to make the picture look slightly better.

Re:Obligatory Engineering Pun (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876370)

That depends on the screen and its internals. My iMac/Gamecube combo does just fine.

Re:Obligatory Engineering Pun (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876074)

oddly enough, my new year's resolution is 1200 x 1920. I can't stand a wide but short monitor - completely inefficient use of space. The only thing it's good for is watching movies.

Re:Obligatory Engineering Pun (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877092)

The only thing it's good for is watching movies.

That and for function calls with lots of arguments. I know I can split them over multiple lines, but I just don't like that.

Re:Obligatory Engineering Pun (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877808)

With the growing ubiquity of "HD" monitors it seems we can resolve to start arguing about portrait vs landscape resolutions.

yay.

kill all infidels! (-1, Flamebait)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876002)

Praise Mohamed. Peace be upon him.

Re:kill all infidels! (-1, Offtopic)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876024)

hahah. Lose some karma this year!

Gotta rile up slashdot from time to time.

True (3, Insightful)

s1d (1185389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876018)

I use the same approach. We work better with smaller goals, which can be quantified. Its easier to remain focussed on small goals which can be achieved quickly, rather than larger goals which may tend to overwhelm us and also may result in loss of motivation after a while. And the same approach can be used in many other areas, not just new year resolutions. Infact, I'd rather call it a good management approach than an engineering approach. *ducks for cover*

Re:True (3, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876090)

Infact, I'd rather call it a good management approach than an engineering approach. *ducks for cover*

I thought engineering was partly about breaking a problem down into smaller problems.

Re:True (2, Informative)

s1d (1185389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876148)

I stand corrected. Perhaps this may actually fall in the mixed stream of "Engineering Management", involving elements from both Engineering and Management, yes?

Re:True (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876436)

I agree.

There aren't many disciplines where the lessons learned can't be applied to other disciplines.

Re:True (2, Informative)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876194)

And that can certainly be done with resolutions. Two years ago I vowed to lose a lot of the weight I put on while studying. I had a general goal set for June/July, but I always broke it down to every day and every week, counting calories and measuring weekly. Its difficult to see 6 - 7 months ahead, you "can always start later". But, by focusing on what I wanted to accomplish each week in order to reach my goal in July, it made it easier. The result: I lost 60 lbs from January to June.

Granted, that is the only new years resolution Ive kept..

Weight lose - just another problem to be solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21877316)

I'm not good at New Years' Resolutions. I recognize this, so rather than wait until the new year, I started right after thanksgiving with mini-goals all feeding into the long term goal of getting back to 180 lbs. I was almost 300lbs, having added 10+ lbs per year over the last 10 years.

Main Goal - 180 lbs (college weight)
General Goals
  • lose weight,
  • measure increased cardio health, strength, & stamina,
  • don't gain any weight over Thanksgiving or Xmas holidays
Specific Goals
  • Diet, exercise, weigh in daily, tracking, & graphing (XLS); do something every day, but take 1 day off ea week
  • Eat about 1700 calories a day - estimate calories, write everything down, but never less than 1500!
  • Ski machine, free weights, outdoor activities (indoor activities with spouse!)
  • No caffeine, no soda, avoid processed foods. Portion control.
  • Eat breakfast (400+ cal) and lunch (~700 cal) for most of my daily calories - healthy snacks (~100 cal ea) too
  • Fill in remaining daily calories for dinner - usually ~200 cal, so veggies, salad, and fruit
  • Nuts - there's something about them and milk that helps me lose weight and feel full.
  • Don't eat anything after 7pm (that time works for me); eating too close to bedtime got me fat to begin with
Since Thanksgiving, I've lost 18 lbs. Over Xmas, I actually lost weight even with the family pushing candy, snacks, etc.

It is really simple, break down the problem - just like a software or engineering problem and make whatever change is needed to solve it.
It really is that simple. You are smart people. Decide. Make the changes. Measure your progress. Correct any issues. Repeat.

According to my chart and losing 3 lbs/week, I should get to my goal in August. I've lost 40 lbs previously and gotten back to 180 lbs as a younger man. Then I fell back into my old habits and didn't get on the scale daily. I now know that I must get on the scale daily and take action if even 5 lbs gets back on.

The main thing is to find what works for you AND do it.

Re: Smaller problems.. (1)

bornwaysouth (1138751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877066)

No, that's calculus. Engineering is about welding things together. They just pretend to do calculus because managerial clients relate well to minutiae. As they say, 'wire frames for chicken-shit brains'.

Obviously not written with Slashdot in mind (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876040)

To improve marriage, people here need need to get a date first. That invovles getting a shave and getting rid of the ponytail. And getting rid of the same t-shirt that has been worn the last 40 days.

No. slashdot is not going to give up on this by the end of January. They are gonna give up by the end of next week.

Re:Obviously not written with Slashdot in mind (3, Funny)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876408)

And getting rid of the same t-shirt that has been worn the last 40 days.
Pfft. Amateur.

Re:Obviously not written with Slashdot in mind (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876420)

I'd change out of this tshirt if I had a washer and dryer. :-(

Re:Obviously not written with Slashdot in mind (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877938)

You'd look silly wearing a washer and dryer.

Rubbish ... just water down your expectations (2, Funny)

piltdownman84 (853358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876070)

The easiest way to keep your New Years Resolutions are to start with a non issue. If you already go to the gym three days a week, make your resolution to get in shape. If you are 20 lbs underweight then make your resolution to not not get fat.

Re:Rubbish ... just water down your expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876774)

And, if you're fat, remain fat?

Talk to to a woman (1)

piltdownman84 (853358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876088)

An Engineering Approach? Let me guess the same resolution as last year and all years past for that matter, talk to a woman this year

Re:Talk to to a woman (5, Funny)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876366)

talk to a woman this year

Speak for yourself - I call my mom every week!

Oh, you meant a ... woman woman ... sorry.

Re:Talk to to a woman (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876488)

I call my mom every week
...asking for money.

Re:Talk to to a woman (2, Funny)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876532)

Speak for yourself - I call my mom every week!
Oddly, your mom calls me every week too.

Re:Talk to to a woman (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876546)

...asking why you failed to eliminate piltdownman84 yet again.

Re:Talk to to a woman (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877968)

Engineers talk to women all the time. Unfortunately there is no engineering solution to getting them to respond...

Never understood new years resolutions (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876092)

To me, and this is probably the engineer in me speaking, the arbitrary designation of the end of the year as a time to make life adjustments is very odd. If there is a problem in your life or something that needs changing, it seems like you should work to correct that whenever you discover it. The big push for resolutions around new years seems counterproductive in that many people may wait to make changes until "the new year".

It seems like personal growth should be a cycle of small, incremental improvements made throughout your life.

Re:Never understood new years resolutions (1)

cshake (736412) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876252)

To me, and this is probably the engineer in me speaking, the arbitrary designation of the end of the year as a time to make life adjustments is very odd. If there is a problem in your life or something that needs changing, it seems like you should work to correct that whenever you discover it. The big push for resolutions around new years seems counterproductive in that many people may wait to make changes until "the new year".

Exactly!

The engineer in me also has a hard time with making wish lists for Christmas and birthdays because I just get what I need when I need it. So I ended up replacing an old computer the week before Christmas, and really had no idea what to ask for even before that, since the computer didn't show signs of dying until a week before I got the new one.

Jan 1 is just another day. I did make a resolution though, and it was to finish writing a bit of code that I was working on, a resolution that I've made and broken every day since the beginning of December. It wasn't related to the new year. :)

Re:Never understood new years resolutions (2, Interesting)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876656)

To me, and this is probably the engineer in me speaking, the arbitrary designation of the end of the year as a time to make life adjustments is very odd. If there is a problem in your life or something that needs changing, it seems like you should work to correct that whenever you discover it. The big push for resolutions around new years seems counterproductive in that many people may wait to make changes until "the new year".

Well, it's not entirely arbitrary or useless. The holiday season provides more free time to think about the things one needs to do. Setting an end-of-holiday start date also takes some of the guilt out of holiday gluttony. Since our culture represents a change of year as significant, even if nothing much actually changes, it's easy to align planned change of oneself with it (why not file away a bad habit or two with the records of paid invoices for 2007?). It's also easy to track how long you've been sticking to your resolutions and seems somehow more significant, when you can call "this year" the year that you started doing things differently. It feels much more significant than telling yourself that you've been jogging since November 22. As far as delaying the onset, well, it can be useful to have a ramp up period. Besides, few people seriously conceive and postpone such resolutions in, say, July. Delaying something by one or two months won't make much of a difference, and you may even get an early start, so that when you officially begin, you start with an advantage.

Psychological problems just aren't engineering problems. You've got to motivate yourself, trick your yourself, bullshit yourself, whatever, to get the job done. Methods and solutions are not terribly clear, constants are few. You probably approach them as engineering problems for some of those very reasons. That approach gives you leverage, motivation, a conceptual framework, and confidence that you will get results.

I don't make New Year's Resolutions myself in any serious way, but I get why people do. I also try to separate the overemphasis junk t.v. places on the custom from the reality.

Anyway, the main point is leverage. One can start (and fail) something at any time, and the extent to which that intention produces serious discipline will vary greatly, as will the opportunities for creating some peer pressure to keep you on your toes. When you make official New Year's resolutions, you can exploit the custom to make things easier.

Remember, "eat less, exercise more" is, for example, a simple algorithm for losing weight, but doing those things isn't simple, like pressing a button. There are psychological problems to solve along the way. The bitch is, we can't see most of our programming.

Enough of my babble.

Re:Never understood new years resolutions (1)

rubah (1197475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877024)

That's why when people start talking about resolutions and I think that I might should do one, I don't wait until January to start xD The whole glutting yourself on what you want to give up doesn't really make sense, if you're going to be going off into the wilderness to like save someone and gorge yourself on food, that might be one thing, but if you're going into the wilderness to deprive yourself of food, then it doesn't make any sense xD It seems like a lot of people do the glutting thing for Lent also. (and a glut obviously doesn't mean just food and the ilk, but also letting yourself roll around in sloth before an exercise regime, or being extra nasty to people before you start trying to be a nice person)

Re:Never understood new years resolutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21877698)

I think that is the case, at least with people that I know -- the new years resolution is the one where you announce it to the world and share with friends. Lighten up and have some fun.

Re:Never understood new years resolutions (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21878260)

To me, and this is probably the engineer in me speaking, the arbitrary designation of the end of the year as a time to make life adjustments is very odd. If there is a problem in your life or something that needs changing, it seems like you should work to correct that whenever you discover it.


That's certainly sensible, but that doesn't mean that you need to throw out the baby with the bath water. Many people find it useful to schedule periods of reflection and re-evaluation periodically: that concept is a staple of such organizational systems as Getting Things Done [davidco.com] . Designating a time for taking a hard look in the mirror can be useful because people often won't do it at all if not presented with a deadline, even a self imposed one.

Does anyone really make these? (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876110)

I remember as a kid making New Year's resolutions, and forgetting about them usually before the end of the night.

I don't think I've even bothered to make one for the past 15-20 years.

So "scientific approach" to keeping them aside - Do people actually make resolutions they ever intend to keep, or do these just amount to 30 seconds of introspection to observe a flaw about yourself, only to forget it a few minutes later? Do you actually say to yourself, "This year, I will get that promotion", and mean it in any way more concrete than mere wishful thinking?

Re:Does anyone really make these? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876508)

I remember as a kid making New Year's resolutions, and forgetting about them usually before the end of the night.

How many years in a row does that make beating off to Seven-of-Nine on Star Trek:Voyager, then?

I made one years ago. (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876134)

I once resolved never to make a New Years resolution again. Happily, I have yet to break it.

myminicity (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876200)

Kill anyone I meet who has a myminicity account.

Re:myminicity (2)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876442)

Let's hope you meet them.

Why the linkjack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876222)

Why does slashdot knowingly linkjack a Joy of Tech comic?

And in English.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876762)

WTF is a "linkjack"?

Re:And in English.... (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877978)

WTF is a "linkjack"?

Zelda porn...?

Re:And in English.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21878538)

I think he mans linking to a gif and not a page full of crud with a gif. Of course, he is a complete moron (which was already evident by use of the word linkjack) as navigating to their main page and clicking on the comic brings you to the link in the summary.

Cut the serving in half? (3, Insightful)

JLennox (942693) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876232)

If you're ordering food that can only be turned into a reasonable calorie count by cutting the serving in half, you have already lost. It's about not ordering that sort of food. Hell, 90% of the problem is ordering food to begin with. If you cooked it yourself, you could of tossed one less stick of butter into it.

Re:Cut the serving in half? (2, Insightful)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21878394)

I have a job that requires me to travel a fair amount. The last thing I feel like doing is buying a few days worth of groceries so that I can cook in the hotel room. So, I eat out. Partial servings is a good way to spread out a steak across two meals instead of one, especially when an 8 oz steak might cost only a couple dollars less than a 16 oz steak, if the 8 oz is available at all.

Small, One Day At a Time Goals (4, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876242)

"Small and tangible one-day-at-a-time goals work best."

You mean like: "Just try not to drink today"?

My new year's resolution is not to make one (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876250)

My new year's resolution is not to make a new year's resolution..

now.. did i just break that resolution pre-emptively? or did I uphold it?

I feel a disturbance in the slashdot.. as if a million heads swelled in pain, and were suddenly silenced!

Re:My new year's resolution is not to make one (2, Funny)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876336)

I've heard this every year, and I don't get it. By making the resolution you've failed at upholding the resolution. There's nothing more to it, no paradox or anything. The time for which you upheld the resolution is zero, that's all. You are the gold standard for the lack of willpower. Congratulations.

Re:My new year's resolution is not to make one (3, Funny)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877300)

A better one is resolving not to keep a new years resolution.

Re:My new year's resolution is not to make one (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877700)

"to be, or not to be, that is the question"

I resolved not to make a resolution.. the real question is whether i even made a resolution or not.

I say screw it! (2, Funny)

Captain DaFt (755254) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876258)

So every year I resolve to be as evil and nasty as possible.
That way not only does no one mind when I break my resolution, I'm encouraged to do so!

Author should read some XteveXalina (1)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876274)

No offence, but it's mostly child-talk, what I read in the summary. Do you really think slashdot crowd is that stupid? Planning, achieving goals, time management is very important to all adult people. And they're usually good at it, that's why they're called adults. For kids out there article doesn't help anyway, because it's just a bunch of pre-canned orders. Embarrassing.
Please don't let slashdot to become another "Cosmopolitan" or "Men's health".
We value scientific and system approach here, not some light journalism.

My resolution from 2001 (2, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876276)

"Make no more silly resolutions just because a calendar # changes"

Still holding it.

Re:My resolution from 2001 (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876470)

Sooo... You will make silly resolution for just about any other arbitrary reason?

Probably Good Advice ... (1)

richg74 (650636) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876298)

Sticking to small-scale, well-defined goals ("limited and achievable objectives") is definitely the way to go, in my experience.

I was, for a few years, a volunteer training coach for a couple of the US AIDS Rides (Boston->New York by bicycle, for example). Everyone has heard people make grand resolutions about getting into, or back into, shape; these resolutions often don't amount to much. We asked people to make an initial commitment to a training program of about 6 weeks, and that worked out pretty well: it was short enough not to be intimidating or impossible-seeming, but long enough that they could begin to see tangible results.

Boo! (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876330)

To improve your marriage, find a new activity you and your spouse both enjoy such as taking a pottery class

Gee, now where on earth did that spooky tip come from *cough*Ghost*cough*

Yeesh...where do they dig up these 'experts'?

Drinking responsibly (1)

GuidoW (844172) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876388)

After this New Years party, my only resolution is "stay away from hard liqour, especially vodka". Maybe in a few hours I can stop thinking about alcohol again and come up with some more interesting resolution.

This works - (3, Funny)

frankenheinz (976104) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876422)

I always resolve to not start smoking crack. (So far I'm batting 1000.)

Who made this resolution? (3, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876430)

To improve your marriage, find a new activity you and your spouse both enjoy such as taking a pottery class
Since this should be filed under the heading "stereotypical things you wife wants you to do" cross referenced under the heading "Taking one for the team."

Instead how about...

..Watching one WWE wrestling event together per week.

..Being able to veto watching "When Harry Met Sally".

..Not having to have a 'deep meaningful discussion about your feelings' during the superbowl.

Go ahead mod me "-1 Troll, Sexist Pig".

Re:Who made this resolution? (1)

BotnetZombie (1174935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876980)

New year's resolution: resist the urge to mod troll when begged for. Time now, 21:43. Woohoo - record time for resolution breaking.

Why does everyone make depressing resolutions? (4, Insightful)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876516)

All I hear is "Loose weight", "Spend more time with my depressing spouse", "Spend more time at the depressing gym."

Well of course no one keeps those. Who wants to do that crap?

Why not resolve to do something you'll enjoy.

Resolve to have more and better sex than last year.
Resolve to earn more for less work than last year.
Resolve to find something new that makes you laugh.
Resolve to cross more things off your "Before I Die..." list.
Resolve to spend less time around people you don't like.

And it just might turn out that you're spending time enjoying your life that a lot of the other things take care of themselves.

Re:Why does everyone make depressing resolutions? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876652)

> All I hear is "Loose weight",

I bet you've never heard that in your life.

Re:Why does everyone make depressing resolutions? (1)

logical1010 (561996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876848)

I resolve to spell properly.

Re:Why does everyone make depressing resolutions? (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877638)

Lose weight, spend more time with your spouse, and more time at the gym (with your spouse if possible) and the chance of having more and better sex will improve.

Re:Why does everyone make depressing resolutions? (2, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21878500)

Lose weight, spend more time with your spouse, and more time at the gym (with your spouse if possible) and the chance of having more and better sex will improve.

Yeah, but the "spouse" constant there sort of torpedoes the whole equation. Make it a variable and you're on to something.

I'm not married, BTW. Just basing this on my observations of married friends.

Re:Why does everyone make depressing resolutions? (2, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21878080)

Resolve to cross more things off your "Before I Die..." list.

If you make dying the priority you can cross the rest off at once (nothing personal, just pointing out the efficient route).

I'm telling you, realistic sexbots = world peace (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21878488)

--- Resolve to have more and better sex than last year.

That gets expensive. Does't matter if it's a S.O. or prostitutes, either.

--- Resolve to earn more for less work than last year.

Not sure I can optimize that one any further without my bosses catching on.

--- Resolve to find something new that makes you laugh.

I just turn on the news every evening. There's new hilarity every day. And it's an election year!

Helps to be a misanthrope, I guess.

--- Resolve to cross more things off your "Before I Die..." list.

But I can't get Jennifer Connelly to return my calls, much less agree to what's on my list.

--- Resolve to spend less time around people you don't like.

Well now I'd have to leave the planet. I'm a skeptic, but I do follow major UFO sightings with interest. No real luck yet.

How to make New Year's Resolutions (4, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876536)

I've been studying this very subject heavily for the past 18 months or so.

We now know a great deal about how the mind works and have applied it to the general subject of "becoming a success". Being successful always involves explicitly setting goals, and this can be done with New Years' resolutions SO LONG AS they are done correctly.

I'm boiling the issues down to a few simple facts, but they are all verified by psychological studies and have their basis in well-known underlying mechanisms. It all comes from your Reticular Activating System, which is a part of your brain that is involved with setting goals (I'm simplifying).

1) Don't make resolutions, set goals. Pick the major areas of your life (personal, work, relationship, church, community) and write down things that you'd like to achieve in the upcoming year.

2) Resolutions need to be written down. No one has explained why writing is needed, but it works. Lots of studies have shown this. (Maybe it's because wirting things activates all areas of your mind at once: you "say" it in your mind while writing it, you see it, you write it, &c).

3) Resolutions must be personal. Use "I" when writing them (as in "I read 15 books by year's end").

4) Resolutions must be positive. If you say "I stop smoking" or "I stop chewing my nails", it won't work. The RAS only deals with positive commands, and not negative ones. To deal with biting your nails, write "I notice every time I bring my fingers to my mouth" or something, and then stop yourself at those times.

5) Resolutions must be in present tense. Write "I earn $80K a year", not "I earn $80K by the end of the year".

6) Where possible, resolutions should be measurable. If you want to lose weight, say "I weigh 175 pounds".

7) Resolutions should be reasonable. Don't say "I earn a million dollars a year", take your salary, add 20% and write "I earn XXX a year".

The more specific and detailed you are, the greater likelyhood that the goal will happen. Want a new car? Write down the make, model, color, options, and everything else you can think of.

Once you have your goals written out, occasionally look at them. Once a week or more will really drive the message home to your subconscious.

People who do this are generally amazed at the results. It's making use of existing well-known mechanisms in your mind, but we've only recently discovered how to make use of them.

And this is why it works... (4, Informative)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876686)

Before some psych major posts about how the RAS isn't involved with goals, let me clarify.

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) decides what is "important" to your conscious mind.

As you read this, you can feel the weight of the chair on your legs, feel the clothes on your shoulders, see the wall beyond the monitor, and hear the backgound noise. You can feel your breathing, and if you concentrate you can maybe hear your heart beat.

None of this information makes it to your consious mind because the RAS steps in and says "this isn't important to me". You don't notice the feel of your pants clinging to your leg, but if a bug started crawling up your leg the RAS would go nuts bringing it to the attention of your mind.

The interesting thing about the RAS is that we can tell it what is important. Once we decide on a goal, anything that reasonates with that goal will be allowed through to our conscious minds.

Day by day we are awash in possibilities that we pay no attention to. Once we set a goal and let the RAS know what's important, these possibilities start to come through to the conscious mind and we find that by exploring more and more possibilities, eventually we get to our goal.

People who set and write down goals comment on how "magical" this all appears. Almost as if there is some force in the universe that is coming to their aid. Suddenly, someone mentions that their son is selling his car and it happens to be the exact make, model, and price you were hoping for.

Of course, the possibilities were there *before* you set your goals as well - you just didn't notice them. Some people have suggested that this is how prayer works.

Whatever the underlying reasons, writing down goals seems to work. It's how people people get to be extremely successful in whatever area they choose.

A Resolution I Shall Keep (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876604)

Again this year I have resolved to resist the incessant whining of the teetotaller in the next office, and continue to support several microbreweries in the most tangible possible way.

GTD (2, Insightful)

ckolar (43016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876618)

Is this really an engineering approach, it looks like the David Allen's "next tangible step you can take the physical world" approach. I am one of those people who found Getting Things Done life changing.

My New Year's Resolution (2, Interesting)

bob.appleyard (1030756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21876630)

I made a resolution to learn some new languages. I happened to make Lisp my first choice, and I'm surprised by how smoothly it's going.

There's a really basic tool I've written in a number of languages before as a first project type exercise. It parses a series of command line options and interprets them in a getopts fashion. In Java, I split the problem into three classes, each consisting of about 100 lines of code on average. It wasn't particularly flexible, and specifying and interpreting the options was a bit messy.

Well, yesterday and today I've been writing the Lisp version, and I'm very impressed by what the language has allowed me to do. The whole thing is less than 100 lines of code and I've been able to put a lot more power and flexibility into the system. It presents a more concise and easier to understand interface to the world. Probably took about the same amount of time to write, but I was having to learn about a language paradigm with which I wasn't familiar, which isn't really the case with the other languages I've done this for.

Before I began this, I expected it would be something like the article recommends against, but having actually made something, however modest, I'm not so sure.

Resolutions, or wishes? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876766)

New Year's resolutions are a crock. It's the same thing as telling yourself on a Friday that "Monday I'm going to start a diet", or "Monday I'll stop smoking", etc. If you realize on a Friday that you need to make a change, you either make that change Friday, or it's not going to happen. If you couldn't make something happen in September, October, November, AND December, pushing the Easy Button Dec 31 isn't going to magically transform your life Jan 1.

The thing is, people don't make "resolutions" - they make wishes. Nobody really wants to work harder to earn a better salary - we just want to win the damn lottery.

Resolving to confirm a need for improved fitness. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21876862)

To improve your fitness, wear a pedometer and monitor your daily activity.
I tried wearing a pedometer. It didn't improve my fitness, just confirmed I was a lazy slob.

Screw the calendar (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877098)

If it is worth changing, it is worth changing right away. General directions are usually just as good as specific goals too.

Well, maybe next year.... (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877262)

12:02AM. "This is the year, dammit. I am going to lose some fucking weight!"

12:05AM. "Hey dude, you want some of this German Chocolate Cake?"

12:06AM. "Damn, maybe next year. This is some fuckin good cake, man."

What I my kid to do this year (2, Funny)

plopez (54068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877834)

1) Stop hanging around slashdot.

2) Move out of my damn basement.

3) Get a date.

Re:What I my kid to do this year (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21878224)

4) Use verbs in my subject lines.

On The Other Hand... (2, Interesting)

dashingdeviant (1205050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21877896)

While I feel like small, easily measurable, attainable goals are good, I think the exact opposite can work, too - resolve something general that can be a bunch of different things and is something that even if you don't totally achieve, you can at least make progress towards. And rather than being something you can put off, or start to fail at or give up on, it should be something that if you have a bad day, week, or month, you just pick up where you left off. Losing weight, getting in shape, healthier eating habits, quitting smoking are all forms of taking better care of yourself - so just resolve to take better care of yourself, do the positive things you can do, and then at the end of the year you can look back and say "well, I didn't lose weight, but I ate healthier, got more exercise, and I'm actually taking vitamins consistently." For me, like a lot of people, the problem with making small, easily attainable goals is that I do those whenever I feel the need to - and it takes a major life event or feeling like I'm stuck to really assess my life and figure out what big changes I make. Culturally having everyone assessing the past year at the end of the calendar year seems like a good artificial way to encourage that. Any sort of resolution of the type this article suggests I would have started doing when I thought of it, and I feel like intentionally putting stuff off for New Year's just encourages you to continue to put it off after New Year's.

Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21878190)

stop fighting MS ... through a fatality

Pedometers are great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21878540)

Those kiddie fiddling mofo's are lurking everywhere.
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