Personal Development
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This article as originally published on 18 December 2003 (adapted)

Happy with the status quo? Want to stay stuck in your rut? These tips will help you make sure nothing changes in 2004...

We all know what January's like. After two weeks of excess, indigestion, fights and feuds all you want is a quiet life. It's cold, it's probably raining, and now is just not the time to be stirring things up. But what on earth do you do about those - I can hardly say it - new year's resolutions.

Whether you're someone who just doesn't want anything to change, or if you're looking forward to a major shot of disappointment before Lent, here is your 10 point plan to making absolutely sure you can avoid keeping your New Year's resolutions. January is already too late, mind, you need to get these principles sorted before you even start.

  1. Make your resolutions very very late at night
    If you get this one right, you can successfully avoid any change at all. If you're lucky, you won't even remember having made them. You certainly won't be able to take any immediate action that risks getting the ball rolling. New Year's Eve is the ideal opportunity to score highly on this one.

  2. Do not write anything down
    People keep making this mistake. Research shows over and over that if you write down what you want to achieve you are more likely to achieve it. Treat pen and paper with extreme caution.

  3. Keep it vague
    Simple but effective.

  4. Do what other people think is best
    Parents are especially useful as a source of ideas that you have no intention of pursuing, but you can also farm ideas from your friends or work colleagues. People who care about you, just want you to be OK. And the best thing about their solutions are that they can bear no relevance whatever to your situation or your feelings. In one ear, out the other. Perfect. Could backfire. Use with care.

  5. Choose something utterly unrealistic
    Another trump card.

  6. Cultivate clutter
    This is one to use if you want to do something new. Keep your task list completely full and you'll never have to go to the gym again. Don't under any circumstances clear out activities you no longer need. Padding is not just a waste of time, it stops other stuff getting into life. Procrastinate like a professional.

  7. Leave a gap
    This is the complement to number 6. Use it when you want to give something up. Fags is a perfect example. Think about all the times you would normally smoke. Make sure you don't let anything else creep into that space: it could cloud your yearning.

  8. Keep it open-ended
    This really works. No destination, no route map. These are the I-want-to be-a-better-person type resolutions. Classy. Socially acceptable and inherently impossible, you need never pay any more attention to them.

  9. Do not tell anyone else about your resolutions
    This is surprisingly important. It's well known that public commitment to goals is strongly associated with achievement. Keep it to yourself.

  10. Focus on what you don't want, not what you do
    Remember that the first and biggest barrier to achievement and change is your own belief that you can do it. Focus on the barriers; fill your mind with them; don't be seduced by what's on the other side.

Good luck for 2004.

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