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Every year, people create New Year’s resolutions, and every year, people resolve to become better versions of themselves.

Blue skies shinin' on me thanks to zaphad1 on Flickr

It’s all very game-like. The tensile approach of New Year’s, the timing of oh, I’ll start eating right in January, I’ll lose weight in January.

Maybe there’s some magical thinking involved. And maybe it’s procrastination. But something about the New Year’s blank state compels people to create big plans for the year ahead.

It’s not as fun to make Tuesday Afternoon’s resolutions, or Lunchtime’s resolutions. (Though game theory posits that would work, if you could just give import to an arbitrary time.)

People resolve to eat better. People resolve to eat “right”—though goodness knows what “right” eating is, as nutritionists and diet book writers argue all the time about the detriments of meat or grains or sugar or fat. Foodies make resolutions that combine healthy habits with deliciousness.

Unfortunately, many of these resolutions are moot. Oftentimes, good habits die off before spring has sprung.

New Year’s resolutions already take on the appearance of a game: why not add some gamification to make the changes stick?

  1. Make SMART goals. They have longevity.
  2. Be specific about your tasks. “Rescue the princess” sounds daunting. “Get through Level 1-1” sounds a bit easier to swallow.
  3. In the case of food resolutions, variety is the literal spice of life. Constant new experiences can really help you through a diet rut.
  4. Rewards—so long as they don’t undermine the goal—are awesome. You don’t want to reward exercise with a giant milkshake, but buying a new exergame wouldn’t be so bad.
  5. Make it fun. This goes hand in hand with rewards, but without adding a bit of whimsy to your tasks, you won’t carry through with the onerous bits for long unless you have willpower of steel.

Got any interesting resolutions this year?