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FYI SOUTH Magazine, January 2007


---By Aphrodite Hua Translated by Annie Liu

You're going to lose weight. You're going to quit smoking. You'll stop eating junk food and munch on salads instead. While you're at it, you're going to do your bit for the planet by recycling more and using your car less.

New Year's Resolutions are traditionally made at the stroke of midnight on December 31, just as the New Year is born. But, more often than not, people living in Western countries announce their goals for the coming year a few days later--after realizing just how much they've drunk, how much they've spent, and how much weight they've gained over the Christmas season.

Many Taiwanese make wishes each Lunar New Year, typically for health, happiness, prosperity, and success. The custom of New Year Resolutions--promising oneself that you'll break a bad habit, or develop a good one--isn't common here. But given the Valentine's Day craze, and the growing popularity of Christmas, it may yet catch on.

In addition to getting in shape and kicking addictions to cigarettes or coffee, common New Year goals include learning a new skill, watching less TV and using the time gained to read serious literature, and getting into the habit of going to bed before midnight. Many resolutions are money-oriented: Make more, spend less, save more, get out of debt.

Making a resolution is easy. Sticking to it is, of course, much more difficult. There are plenty of self-help gurus who are willing to help, for a fee of course. What they have to say can be boiled down to seven key points...

Use your social support network--your friends. Find a buddy or co-worker with the same goal e.g. quitting smoking. Meet regularly, share your difficulties, and give each other encouragement. This is similar to the way Alcoholics Anonymous works

As far as possible, remove temptation and negative influences from your life, and replace them with more positive influences. Hang out with people who don't smoke if you want to quit cigarettes. If you're trying to lose weight, get rid of the Haagen-Dazs in your freezer, and don't wander into 7-Eleven just because you're feeling bored.

Set interim goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. If you want to lose 10 kilograms, treat yourself to a little extravagance when you're halfway there--a movie or new shoes (but not a meal in a fancy restaurant, for obvious reasons).

Keep a record of your progress. It'll help you stay motivated when you're feeling down (because you'll see how far you've come), and it'll shame you into trying harder if you lapse.

Write down the reasons why you want to stick to your resolution; keep a copy in your wallet or handbag, and put another copy in a place where you'll see it at least once a day. Be blunt: "Eat better, or end up diabetic like Uncle John."

Plan ahead. Where are you going to buy the healthier food you want to eat? When and where are you going to do exercise? How will you wake yourself up in the morning without coffee?

Don't despise yourself if you never reach your final goal. If you can't quit altogether, cutting down on cigarettes and alcohol is still very worthwhile. If you can't slim down to the point where you'd happily show your body off in a bikini, remember that losing some weight is still beneficial.

Whatever your New Year's Resolution, do your best!

"Instead of listening to pop music
on the train to work, I'm goin
g to use my MP3 player to listen to
and learn about classical music."
--Gloria Liang, 26

"Three days a week, I'm going to go to
work by bicycle instead of motorcycle--
for my sake and the environment's."
--John Martindale, 36

"On March 16, one of my best friends
died of lung cancer. I gave up smoking
two weeks later. Now I'm going to
help every smoker I know quit."
--Tim Lin, 35

"I'm going to create a beautiful garden
on my apartment's balcony."
--Aphrodite Hua, "not quite 30"


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