January 2nd, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #713 'Three secrets to resolution success'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The start of a new year brings a lot of promises for change, for presidents as well as regular people. That’s what my letter is about today.

Dear Mr. President,

New Year’s resolutions are tricky, aren’t they? In one breath they are excellent recommitments to principles in which we believe, improvements we want to make, and projects we should undertake. On the other hand, since they usually don’t play out the way we expect, one could argue that resolutions are really just little disappointments that we tee up for ourselves at the beginning of the year.

I think part of the secret to keeping resolutions is not overreaching.

For example, vowing to lose weight (the most popular of all on the Resolution Hit Parade) is a fine idea. But expecting to slough off ten pounds before February is not reasonable. Pick a more manageable goal. Give up chives. Or shaved ham. Or perhaps vow to leave at least one Oreo in the bag. Sure, you probably won’t lose much weight, but you also won’t lose your belief that resolutions can be kept. Then after five or six years of these marginal victories you’ll be ready to take on a more serious challenge. Like say, giving up McRib sandwiches. Or at least the fries.

Another secret to resolution success: Fitting it into your schedule.

Promising to work out for an hour every day is a great idea. But then, in these hectic times, who the heck has a whole extra hour to toss around like that? Mind you, I believe many of us actually do have plenty of time for such things, but rarely will it appear as a contiguous block. You’ll have to rearrange bits and pieces of hours, minutes and seconds from all over the place to create that opportunity. And even then…hey, an hour? See rule number one. The point is, give yourself a fighting chance to fulfill your resolution by giving it a home in your schedule.

And my third secret to resolution success: Make it a genuine promise to yourself and don’t go to sleep any night without being true to your word. If you’re going to read more, don’t lay down before you’ve picked up a book. If you’re going to play piano, don’t brush your teeth and throw on your jammies before sitting down at the bench and the 88. In other words, if you believe in making a resolution on …try to believe in keeping it. Really. Seriously.

As the old saying goes, the road to hell if paved with good intentions. (Or maybe that’s the road to Tulsa. Not sure…) Turn your good intentions into more than that, and the real cause for New Year’s celebrations will be in July when you are still holding firm.

Hope all if well. Give me a buzz if you have a moment.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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