How to Make Better New Year's Resolutions

Aim to do less, not more: researchers
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2013 11:24 AM CST

(Newser) – Let us guess: Your New Year's resolution is to learn a new language, do yoga three times a week, or read a book a day. Well, according to Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir and Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan, those are exactly the sorts of resolutions you shouldn't be making. Instead, you should resolve to do less in the coming year, explains Ray Fisman at Slate. That's because, as Shafir and Mullainathan argue, adding more obligations to your life will mean you end up falling behind on your existing obligations. Thus starts the vicious cycle: Disorder increases, and you're bound to make more bad time-management decisions as a result.

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If you protest that you do your best when busy, Mullainathan and Shafir caution that you probably disregard the larger, long-term picture in the process—thus undermining your future. "Which is why I, like other time-crunched professionals, would do well to resolve simply to take on fewer obligations in the new year, rather than resolving to learn Mandarin or pick up moose hunting," Fisman writes. "By taking on more, odds are I’d compensate by being a lesser parent, researcher, and writer." Insistent on making a resolution to do something? "Lock in commitments to self-betterment that won’t require vigilance. ...Increase the default contribution to your pension plan [or] buy a smaller fridge that won’t hold as much ice cream." Click for more vigilance-less ideas. (Read more New Year stories.)

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