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1. Never Resolve to Learn Japanese
Or French. Or Swahili. Sure, it seems like a good idea, sashaying around Paris for a romantic weekend, ordering this and that with le mot juste. And theoretically it's doable: Despite what you've heard, most linguistic experts say that adults can pick up languages as easily as kids; it's just that our methods are different. Kids learn by absorbing. We learn by analyzing, which means attending regular group classes, practicing with native speakers and sitting down with language CDs. The time and effort all that requires, though, can leave you burned out before you've figured out how to correctly place your first accent.

Commit to memorizing a few common, utterly useful phrases each day online, free, at Radio Lingua's Coffee Break and book a vacation somewhere the language is spoken, because isn't that why you've set the goal in the first place?
Cople playing in the snow

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2. Never Resolve to Be More Mysterious or More Fun
Many of us have a lingering, never-shared longing that dates back to high school, when we wanted to be either the girl at the party with the dark, brooding personality, who drew in boys by dint of her unspoken torment (Bella, anybody?), or the girl who skinny-dipped, drank whiskey and tipped cows at midnight. Nowadays, we decide, officially, to be more enigmatic! Or more exciting! Or less shy. Or less loud. Or sweeter. But slapping an adjective on your future is the quickest way to ruin it. You are who you are. You can't change your personality with the calendar.

Resolve to climb a mountain or eat more nachos—to have some fun instead of worrying about being fun. And forget about mystery. Adult mysteries tend not to be that alluring (some examples: "Why didn't you show up for work?" "Where did all the money in our savings account go?" "Why did you never tell me about your homicidal ex?"). If you're thinking that a more wistful you, a more sphinxlike you, a more cheerleady you would bring more folks into your life, you might find it easier to test-drive the world's least appreciated magic trick: smiling at people.

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3. Never Resolve to Get Up at 6 A.M. Every Day and Work Out
This is never going to happen, and we all know why: The world is too cold and dark at that hour. The comforter is too fluffy, thick and warm. You'll go once, feel triumphant and smug, and then miss the next day and feel like a huge, horrible failure and never, ever go again.

Commit to one morning workout per week. Go to bed early the night before to ensure success. When that becomes routine, aim for two sunrise classes a week. If you miss the same early session three weeks in a row, however, rethink the whole plan and consult Bob Greene about finding the best time of day for you to exercise.

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4. Never Resolve to Skip the Jarred Pasta Sauce
Cook spaghetti, open jar, dump on sauce—it's the world's easiest dinner, and better yet, it feels and looks like you actually prepared something, unlike, say, ordering in sushi. And yet, you feel guilty. In your secret, nagging heart, you believe that "jar pasta" is only one short step from eating cottage cheese straight from the container or boiling hot dogs in the microwave. The truth is that jarred marinara is usually low in fat and rich in the antioxidant lycopene (studies have shown that organic sauces may have up to three times more of it). It's also delicious—especially when you use the brands made with olive oil (not cheaper canola or soybean oil) and whole, chopped or diced tomatoes (not tomato puree or paste).

Experiment with a few other five-minute dinner solutions. This will address the resolution behind the resolution: to make something new, something homemade, something totally satisfying. So try one of these 13 fastest dinners on the planet (including the world's speediest stir-fry). When you have a little more time (but not necessarily more energy), make something unexpected with the jarred pasta sauce, like Oven-Baked Penne with Eggplant, Enchilada Casserole or Portobello Mushroom and Bell Pepper Sloppy Joes.

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5. Never Resolve to Fit into Skinny Jeans
"Skinny" is such a horrible word. It makes everyone feel fat except skinny people, who it makes feel bony and strange.

First, on principle, stop buying anything that has the word "skinny" attached to it. This includes lattes and sunscreen. Then invest in some pants that help you make the most of your assets.

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6. Never Resolve to Cut Up Your Credit Cards into Teeny-Tiny, Unusable Bits
Vowing to never charge again lasts...until the first time you need to rent a car, book a hotel, pay for something from an online store that doesn't take PayPal or fork out a $6 ATM fee to get cash.

Vow to get financially savvy. If you're overspending via plastic, you're overspending in general. First, get a sense of what you have and what you owe. Then, with the effects of the recent economic meltdown in mind, figure out if you need to start paying off your debt or beefing up your emergency savings.

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7. Never Resolve to Give Up Junk Food
Why? There will a bad day—or a sad-movie night. There will be a horrible date or a screaming boss or a children's birthday party that you must throw without spending $500 on fancy snacks for 5-year-olds. There will be a Thanksgiving dinner that requires fried onion bits for the casserole, or a visit from your mother-in-law that demands one pound of Almond Roca washed down with diet root beer.

Give yourself a pass on the emergencies and clean up your day-to-day snacking. Choose to shop only with a cart, as opposed to a smaller basket; the cart makes you more likely to choose "virtue" foods (fresh veggies, fruit, whole grains) over "vice" foods (candy, popcorn, soda). You can also stock your pantry with healthier versions of your favorite indulgences, like chips, dips and frozen premade dinners.

Keep Reading: 52 week-by-week resolutions for 2012


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