New Year's Resolution: Pro Tips

The view of the sun is partially obscured by Earth as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Mar. 11, 2013, at 2:20 a.m. EDT. Credit: NASA/SDO

The view of the sun is partially obscured by Earth as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Mar. 11, 2013, at 2:20 a.m. EDT. Credit: NASA/SDO

Happy (albeit belated) new year.  Along with celebrations, rejoicing, and forgetting of old acquaintance comes renewed resolution – which is all too often met by a committee of haters. In the last week I've lost count of the number of stories I've seen or heard dooming your new year's resolution.

Keep in mind, a new year's resolution is nothing more than a goal in disguise. The only difference is that a resolution bears added societal pressure because it's a widespread ritual. So, here's my number one tip to keep your new year's resolution. Just don't tell people about it. Better to set your mind on something and do it for yourself. It's like quitting smoking in that regards.

If you tell all your friends you're quitting smoking, you're unlikely to get support from your smoking friends (if they don't outright try to sabotage you), and you'll catch endless flak from  both smokers and non-smokers the first time they see you light up. A barrage of disparagement doesn't help. It doesn't allow for any moments of weakness.

Life happens and sometimes it'll make sticking to your resolution downright difficult. A resolution doesn't have to die if you fail to follow it for one day. There's no reason it can't be picked up again the next day. You're much more likely to pick the goal back up if you've decided to do it for yourself and haven't been made out to feel like a total dill-hole by everybody you know. 

Now, you still have to keep yourself honest. It's all too easy to rationalize the above into never getting anything done. A good way of doing that is to keep track of how you're doing day in and day out by keep a log or a journal.

It also helps if you narrow the focus of your resolution. "Working out" is a very broad concept. It's easier to follow something more specific like deciding to run a certain distance / amount of time. Or, picking certain exercises or body parts you want to focus on. The goal should also be attainable. If you haven't gotten off the couch in the last decade, you'd only be setting yourself up for failure if you set your eyes on running a marathon. 

"Going to the gym" is not a much better resolution. As with "working out" it's too generic. "Going to the gym" also entails actually going to the gym. That includes paying out a bunch of money for a membership, and then commuting to and from the place before or after work. It's hours of time and effort that need to be dedicated to the goal. There's nothing stopping you from doing push-ups and sit-ups in the comforts of your own home, and YouTube is chock-full of exercise videos you can stream for absolutely free.

And if you haven't gotten started on your resolution yet? Don't worry, it's not too late. January 1st is only a date on the Gregorian calendar. You can literally be above it and sync up your resolution to cosmic events. Today just happens to be perihelion.  

By the way, if you like space, astronomy, or Neil Tyson you should probably check out his weekly podcast: StarTalk Radio.