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How To Make Resolutions You’ll Keep

How To Make Resolutions You’ll Keep

This is a time when people make resolutions and think about the changes they plan for the year ahead. 2005 is past; 2006 is lit by a glow of anticipation. The world of blogs is replete with suggestions for suitable resolutions, notes on how best to implement them and motivational pieces to get you started.

That’s not where I plan to go.

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I want to look back to the year that’s past, and try to recall the resolutions I didn’t keep in 2005: all the good intentions that came to nothing; the plans that somehow dissolved as they met reality. What did I want that I failed to act on? What did I hope for, then gradually allow to drift into limbo?


Why do this? Not to berate myself for what I left undone; nor to feel that most useless and pointless of emotions, guilt. What I hope is to learn from what happened—or didn’t happen— and discover things essential for the year ahead.

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There are no failures, only experiments that didn’t work. Every action (including inaction) produces a result; and every result is a way to help you learn more. Maybe you resolved to quit smoking, but are still puffing away on that cancerous weed. Ask yourself what held you back you from your resolve. What was more important to you than giving up cigarettes? The good feelings smoking gives you? The belief that it helps you stay slim? Social pressures? Maybe you resolved to lose weight, but weigh pretty much the same as before. What was more important than being thinner? The pleasure of eating? Relief from loneliness? Bingeing on chocolate or Doritos to offset some unhappiness? Did you fail to keep your plan to get better qualifications because of financial stress—or fear of leaving your predictable rut?

There’s always a reason in what you do, and in whatever you fail to do as well. Most often, it’s linked to your values. They aren’t all equal: the more important values trump the weaker ones. Concern for your health may be one of your values, but if wanting to fit in with your friends ranks higher, you’ll continue to smoke, or drink too much, or spend too much, if that’s what it takes to stay part of the gang. Make all the resolutions you wish. Until you change the relative ranking of your values, nothing in your behavior will to alter for long.

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The point of this exercise is to discover what rational decisions caused you to step away from what you resolved. Which were the values you acted on because they ranked highest? Not the ones linked to your resolutions. If they had been the most important, you’d be looking back on plans made and kept. Something else was stronger, so—completely rationally, if not always consciously—you did what it told you, and walked away from what you intended to do.

Never make resolutions simply because you feel it’s the right thing to do; they won’t have the force of deep, underlying values needed to produce success. Take whatever time you need time to work out what truly counts for you and link any resolutions to that. If your resolutions don’t draw on your strongest values; don’t spring from feelings and beliefs too important to ignore, they will quickly be swept away. You’ll feel bad for a little while, then forget about them—until next January 1st. A few moments of guilt will be your only reward, not success—nor a valuable lesson in self-discovery.

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There are no failures. Your mistakes are experiments every bit as useful as your successes, as long as you learn from them. Don’t rush ahead to a new set of resolutions for 2006 without getting the full benefit from all those you made last year; whether you kept them, lost them or set them aside. Stop, reflect and consider. If you only do that, you’ll have learned the most valuable lesson of them all: the lesson of lifelong learning.

Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership, and The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

Here are some study tips to help get you started:

1. Use Flashcards

Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

As Tony Robbins says,

“Repetition is the mother of skill”.

2. Create the Right Environment

Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

4. Listen to Music

Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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5. Rewrite Your Notes

This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

6. Engage Your Emotions

Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

7. Make Associations

One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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