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Resolved to stick with your New Year’s resolution? Here’s how

A Stanford News round-up includes a host of suggestions for sticking with your New Year's — or any self-improvement goal

I'm all for New Year's resolutions — for other people. I've just never caught the bug. But like most everyone reading this, I'm guessing, I'm a sucker for self-improvement, growth and new opportunities. And that's really all a resolution is, once you strip it of its formal title.

So whether you're the resolution type or not, a recent spread by Stanford News features helpful science-based tips about to accomplish a goal, such as losing weight, boosting exercise, succeeding at work, or even saving more money.

One gem I discovered: People are more likely to stay motivated and achieve a goal if it is vague — such as I'd like to lose 5 to 15 pounds this year, rather than 10 pounds by March 1, according to research led by Baba Shiv, PhD, a professor of marketing at Stanford Business. The article explains:

'For one to be successful, one needs to be motivated,' says Shiv... Presenting information in a vague way — for instance using numerical ranges or qualitative descriptions — 'allows you to sample from the information that’s in your favor,' says Shiv, whose research includes studying people’s responses to incentives. 'You’re sampling and can pick the part you want,' the part that seems achievable or encourages you to keep your expectations upbeat to stay on track, says Shiv.

Another article offers tips for unplugging from technology. There, Kelly McGonigal, PhD, recommends "surf[ing] the urge" to check your phone:

Pay attention to what it feels like in your body and to your breathing. Think of the urge like a wave you are going to surf, and breathe through it. Like a wave, it will crash and dissolve. Cravings sustain themselves when your brain and body believe you are going to give in. As soon as you make a commitment not to, it begins to change how the brain is processing the craving. This approach has been shown to help people conquer all kinds of cravings, from food to cigarettes.

There's lots more to discover, with or without a resolution.

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