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Five of the Best New Year Resolutions to consider for 2015
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With the final weeks of 2014 turning from future to history, it's not too soon to get working on the list of your New Year's Resolutions. Maybe one of the resolutions you want to include on the list is "less procrastination" ... but if that's the case you will get to the list sometime..later, right?

Researchers have looked at success rates of peoples' resolutions: the first two weeks usually go along beautifully, but by February 1st, 55% of Canadians will have failed to keep their resolutions.

Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University, says that resolutions are a form of "cultural avoidance," an effort to reinvent oneself. People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves, he says. Pychyl argues that people aren't ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. Another reason, says Dr. Avya Sharma of the Canadian Obesity Network, is that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions.

Psychology professor Peter Herman and his colleagues have identified what they call the "false hope syndrome," which means their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves. This principle reflects that of making positive affirmations. When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don't really believe, the positive affirmations not only don't work, they can be damaging to your self-esteem.

The other aspect of failed resolutions lies in the cause and effect relationship. You may think that if you lose weight, or reduce your debts, or exercise more, your entire life will change, and when it doesn't, you may get discouraged and then you revert back to old behaviors.

Making resolutions work is essentially changing behaviors and in order to do that, you have to change your thinking and "rewire" your brain. Brain scientists such as Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you're faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by "not trying to do it," in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.

So, if you're going to make New Year's resolutions, don't take yourself so seriously. Have fun and laugh at yourself when you slip, but don't let the slip hold you back from working at your goal.

Here are five suggestions for your 2015 list:
  1. Take It Easy
    We know you work hard and play hard, but you probably also stress too hard and even think too hard! This year, give yourself a break from unnecessary stresses by slowing down. Forget running errands all day on your Saturdays. Instead, give yourself the gift of a leisurely walk, a Sunday night movie, or an afternoon spent gardening.

  2. Read the Bible
    Reading the Bible is not only a great way to get in touch with God, but to relax and take time for yourself as well. Instead of spending your Monday evening watching reality TV reruns, reread your favorite verse in the Bible... or find a new one to help you get motivated for the New Year. There is definitely an amazing verse just waiting to become your mantra for living better

  3. Go Gadget Free
    Yes, we know your smartphone is fun and it's a great way to stay in touch with your friends and family, but it's also an addiction. Make a rule for yourself that involves turning off all computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. at least once a week (Sunday seems like the perfect day to us)! At first this may seem like it's hindering you from making connections, but it's actually going to help you make even deeper connections with those around you!

  4. Remove Negative Elements
    January is the perfect time of year to give up all the things holding you back from your best self yet! From negative friends to bad habits (smoking, drinking, gambling), it's time to clear out all of the things you spent 2014 complaining about. Make a list of anything and everything you find negative in your life and remove them while you can. Now is the time to make yourself happy, so do it!

  5. Add Positive Energy
    While you're removing all the negatives from your life, fill the void left behind with positive people and hobbies. Think about your funniest, most caring friends and ask them to lunch next weekend. Or, help yourself to stop obsessing with those cigarettes you’re giving up by keeping a journal of positivity. Every time you get the craving to smoke, head to your journal to jot in everything you're thankful for in your life. You can also take up new hobbies like hiking, running, weight-lifting or yoga.

    These will lead to a Happy New Year!