Making New Year's resolutions is easy: Keeping them is hard

It's tradition that stretches back probably to the year 1. Every year people make New Year's Resolutions, and by February, if not sooner, they're long forgotten.

But it doesn't have to be that way. I may not be an expert at keeping all of my resolutions -- if I were, I'd be a millionaire sipping a pina colada on a beach somewhere -- but I consider myself something of an expert at remembering them, and so I thought I'd offer a few tips for those who are thinking of making resolutions but wondering if it's worth the trouble.

1) Don't call them New Year's Resolutions. The resolutions part is fine. The "New Year" isn't. Instead, I always write up a "goal" list. If you think of the habits you want to achieve as attached to January 1, even if you're looking ahead to January 1, 2010, by the time you get into February and March, anything you've mentally attached "New Year" to won't feel new at all, and if you had planned to contribute more to your IRA, spend less at the grocery store or lose weight or whatever, chances are, you'll have forgotten all about your bold ideas. But if you call your list something like, "Goals: 2009," you might have a better shot at keeping your resolutions at the forefront of your mind.