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Feature

The Roman God of Gates and Doors.

January takes its name from the Roman god, Janus, who looks back to the past and forward to the future--a model for resolution-making.

Happier New Year

some tips for making resolutions stick

By Martha Coventry

Originally published on December 30, 2004; updated on January 12, 2005

New Year's resolutions--whenever they're made--need to be full of hope. When we voice what we want for ourselves in the coming year, we shouldn't think about how bad we've been in the past, but about what great possibilities lie ahead.

But we need to pay attention so that the thrill of a clean start doesn't turn into self-recrimination as we watch ourselves slide back into unwanted habits or, worse yet, not care enough about our dreams to follow through.

"We make resolutions every year as a kind of reckoning of the self when the long, dark nights start turning shorter and we think of new beginnings," says U psychology professor Marti Hope Gonzales. "But research shows that six weeks after people make their New Year's resolutions, 80 percent have either broken them or couldn't remember what they were."

"Write down your resolution at the top of a sheet of paper--in big, bold letters--then use the rest of the sheet to think about how you're going to achieve your goal," says Gonzales.

In order to be successful in your resolution-making, give your wishes some long and quiet thought--after all, you will use your resolution to guide you through the 12 months ahead and that's a serious commitment. Make sure it speaks to your heart and your true desires.

Once you've decided on your goal and experienced "the emotional buoyancy that comes with envisioning yourself as a new and better person," says Gonzales, there are steps to take to give you the sweet possibility of actually making your resolution real.

Gonzales suggests five things to do, all designed to make you feel happy and satisfied when December 31, 2005, rolls around.

However you approach the new year, remember to take stock of all you have to be grateful for and use your resolution, if you make one, as a way to see your future with fresh eyes.