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10 Worst New Year’s Resolutions (And How to Make Them Work)

By Ann Pietrangelo
January 4, 2013; 12:01 PM ET

New Year's resolutions have been around a long time. Some of us make them half-heartedly, some of us do it with great purpose. Few of us actually achieve our goals by the end of the year. Maybe it's because making resolutions just after the holidays is particularly bad timing, what with our tendencies to overindulge, overspend, and generally let the chips fall where they may. Or maybe it's because we are completely unrealistic or entirely too vague with our resolutions.

The good news is that even some of the worst resolutions can work if we eliminate broad statements and boil them down to specifics.

10 Worst New Year's Resolutions and How to Make Them Work

Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

1. Join a Gym

Ah, the January gym membership. We all know how that one turns out. Gyms are brimming with activity in January, but no so much come April. It's an expensive lesson.

If you really want to exercise, make a long-term plan. Begin with walking or other easy or moderate exercises that you can do in your home or around your neighborhood. Gradually increase your exercise level and stick to your long-term plan. If by May or June, you're still at it, you may be ready for that gym membership after all. The key is to carefully investigate the details of gym membership so you can determine how and when it will fit into your life.

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2. Go on a Diet

The problem is that "going on a diet" is setting yourself up for failure. Unless your doctor has recommended a very specific diet for a health condition, you should just forget about strict diets and fad diets because eventually, you're bound to stray.

Instead of a "diet," think about eating for optimal health and wellbeing, and think about it as a lifetime plan, not something with an expiration date. Even if a specific weight is your ultimate goal, a lifetime plan of eating for health will eliminate that temptation to go back to your old ways once your reach your desired weight.

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3. Spend More Time with Family and Friends

Many people make this resolution, but few manage to achieve it. We spend so many hours running errands, doing chores, and earning a living that we have little time or energy left over for the good stuff. It's a nice thought, but too vague.

What will change in the coming year that will enable you to fulfill this resolution? Make a plan that includes specifics about how you can streamline your "to do" list. Then get real about it. Create a family game night; schedule a day out with your sister; host a gathering for your friends. Choose one activity per week, per month, or even per year. Whatever you do, circle the date on the calendar and make it part of your "to do" list rather than that thing you only do if time permits.

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