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New Year's Resolutions that Stick

by cottontailcat


New year's resolutions - everyone seems to make them, but come the Month of Awakening, more words are eaten by defeated neopets than snow blocks by Dieter. How does the modern neopet make a promise that holds strong through the test of time? Well, determination goes a long way, but even the deepest desire to keep your resolution won't get the job done alone.

Every year, I make a resolution. Most years, I forget about it by Jhudora Day. I've sworn to do, be, or stop doing a thousand different things, like many of you have, too! A particularly memorable disaster - er, resolution - involved a slightly excessive love for Terror Mountain Scratchcards and rapidly dwindling National Neopian Bank fund. I knew things had to change - I was saving up for a Usuki Paint Brush, and half my savings were being eaten by that manipulative Wocky!

When the New Year rolled around, I decided to step up my game. I couldn't break a resolution, could I? Goodness, no! I would be forced to give up the cards of temptation and focus on my Usuki Girl Usul dream ... or so I convinced myself.

As we all know, resolutions rarely go to plan. Everything fell apart by Sloth Appreciation Day, when I broke down and bought a full lot of ten scratchcards from the Trading Post. I saw the lot, passed by, and quickly wandered my way back. This repeated, again and again, passing the vendors like a carousel - until I was watching myself hand over the neopoints and cradling the scratchcards in my hands. No! What was I doing?! I made a resolution, a promise! I had to sell them back. It was the Trading Post after all, it shouldn't have been too hard to make back a few thousand NP.

When I took a careful look through the lot, I realized I'd overpaid. If I sold them, really, I'd lose at least 10-20k, and what was the point in that? Honestly, I could very well win back what I spent! It was worth a try, anyway. So I scraped, scuffed and scratched to my heart's content until every last card was finished - and found myself empty-handed. That's right, absolutely zero winnings from over 100k NP's worth of scratchcards.

All in all, that little breakdown wasn't worth it. So I set out on a quest - a quest for a resolution that truly made sense, one that was both achievable and desirable, one that got done what needed to be done and spared what could be spared. Here are all the tips I found.

1) Make your resolution specific.

Laying your resolution down like a task on a to-do list is much more effective than speaking of it like a goal. Instead of "I will get rich this year," try "I will earn 1 million NP before Y18." "I want to use a Rainbow Paint Brush" becomes "I will save 500 NP a day towards the Rainbow Paint Brush;" "I have to earn more avatars" is more successful as "I will earn the following avatars: ..." and so on.

2) Visualize your life after the initial habit-forming period.

The first few months of your resolution can be the hardest. This new task is not yet routine in your day-to-day, whatever it may be. Unfortunately, this annoyance has no quick fix - but time will meld your resolution into your life. In the meantime, it may help to picture what things will be like when this day comes! Consider writing out the benefits of keeping this resolution - success, happiness, riches, or something else all together?

3) Accept your mistakes.

Let's be honest - it's unlikely that you will keep your resolution perfectly, never slipping up. In fact, it's nearly impossible. So, account for that! Don't word your resolution as an absolute. If your promise to yourself this year was "I won't eat any chocolate items ever again," consider trying the more forgiving "I will stop eating chocolate items," and don't freak out if you give in to those pesky Orange Chocolate Korbats on occasion!

4) Reward & motivate yourself!

If you picked a resolution like buying less lottery tickets or downsizing your Usuki collection, keeping your promise might be emotionally taxing. Beat the post-new year blues with a little reward for each step you achieve! You might want to buy yourself a Candy Licorice Latte for every day you resist that ever-tempting lottery machine, or find a pretty gallery theme so you can display that newly controlled collection. Remember to reward yourself frequently and work towards those prizes when things get tough.

5) Keep it simple.

Stay with just one resolution per year, or you'll get overwhelmed and burn out long before the Month of Running shows itself. It might be nice to get ten articles published in the Neopian Times, stop wasting so much time playing Whack-A-Kass, expand your store to a 500 sq ft shop front and join a guild this year, but no one can do it all. Think about the goal closest to your heart and work towards it - if you get there early, who says you can't have Summer Resolutions?

With these guidelines in mind, it became clear to me that my resolution was doomed from the very start. I was too hard on myself - who could give up such a routine action at the drop of a hat like I tried to? From then on, I made a conscious effort to avoid Scratchcard Kiosks, but didn't beat myself up if I gave in ever once in a while. I made my bank account sacred and carried on me only what I was willing to spend - never more than 1k NP unless I was on my way to make a specific purchase. Slowly but surely, the itch to scrape those cards lessened, and by the Month of Collecting I didn't fear squandering my life's earnings at the Kiosk. I could buy just one card, and not need to come back every four hours for another!

Above all, I hope you remember to go easy on yourself. Resolutions aren't easy for anyone, and you deserve a reward just for making one! Happy new year to you and yours, may you receive all the best in Y17.

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