The real way to make New Year's resolutions

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DePaul professor Joseph Ferrari is the author of "Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting it Done."

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Now is the time to start thinking about New Year's resolutions, especially if you're a procrastinator.

Talking to friends and family right now can help can help anyone get on track and stick with their New Year's resolutions, said Joseph Ferrari, author of "Still Procrastinating?: The No Regrets Guide to Getting it Done."

Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, offered a number of tips for those trying to keep New Year's resolutions. Problems arise, he noted, when people keep their resolutions private.

"When you keep resolutions a secret, no one is going to check up on you," he said. "You're only accountable to yourself."

People may want to consider publicly posting what they are going to do because it helps to hold them accountable to their resolutions, he said.

Ferrari suggested that people have parties to publicly share their resolutions. Each person at the party could write down a resolution on a piece of paper and place it in a hat. Then, everyone would draw a resolution out of the hat and guess who wrote it.

Another tip is to set realistic New Year's goals. Don't set your bar impossibly high.

"You can't lose 40 pounds in four months, but you can lose four pounds in four months and keep it off," Ferrari offered. "If you lose 10 pounds and your goal was four, you've still succeeded. If you lose 10 pounds and your goal was 40, you've failed."

Overly ambitious goals can drain a person's confidence when they are not met, Ferrari noted. People can build on the small, observable victories and possibly achieve bigger down goals the line.

"Don't try and do everything," Ferrari said. "Take things on one at a time."

For those who cannot think of any way to improve themselves, Ferrari offers these resolution ideas:

  • Return emails and phone calls within 24 hours.
  • Turn phones off during meetings so you can focus. (It's also respectful to other attendees.)
  • Be on time and prepared for meetings.
  • Open a Roth IRA.
  • Write a will; choose a guardian.
  • Delegate some of your responsibilities to free up your time.
  • If you hope to reduce bad habits, don't try to do all of them at once; focus on one habit at a time.
  • Pick one prize to reward yourself at the end of a project.
  • Tough comes first. Don't put off the hardest parts of your resolution.
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