2014 is just around the corner, which means it’s time to make extravagant, untenable oaths to yourself like “Next year, I’m going to volunteer five hours every day, become a professional floutist, master underwater basket weaving and only use Facebook to message friends!”

It’s easy to feel cynical about New Year’s resolutions, or “those special little promises you make to be less like yourself and more like other, better people,” but they can actually be successful — so long as you create realistic goals for yourself and then break those goals into manageable, bite-sized chunks.

For example, if your New Year’s Resolution is to find a better job, you could:

  • Devote a Pomodoro a day to a variety of career-related exercises like finding your strengths, improving your resume or getting better at interviewing.
  • Spend three or more Pomodoros every weekend looking at and replying to job postings.

To have a less stressful new year:

  • Try doing a basic yoga stretch at your desk during every five minute break. See here for more. Alternately, you could try deep breathing or meditation.
  • Spend a Pomodoro a day doing something relaxing like devoting time to a longer yoga session, a relaxing stroll, cooking your favorite meal or taking a bath.

To lose weight:

  • Make an oath to yourself to use your Pomodoro breaks to exercise.
  • Devote a Pomodoro a day to preparing a healthy, delicious meal at home.

Add all of these tasks to your activity inventory, and then create a long-term timeline that incorporates them into your daily schedule.

Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Specific. For example, if you were planning on losing weight, think about the kinds of tools could you use to track your weight over a period of time (not just your scale).

You can avoid having a less-than-stellar success rate (52% of resolution-makers were confident they’d achieve their goals, yet only 12% succeeded according to a study by author and psychologist Richard Weiseman) by rewarding yourself along the way, rather than throwing yourself a big party when you reach your goal. Try to find small ways to give yourself a pat on the back every week.

Lastly, don’t overreact to any momentary lapse in judgement. Remember: the next Pomodoro will go better.

Good luck and Happy New Year’s!

Sincerely,

The Pomodoro Team

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