The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they always seem vaguely punitive — the presumption is either that you’re having to curb excess because of unwanted health, life, career, or family consequences, or that you’re going to transform yourself with muscle and sweat, as well as wishful thinking.

But, what if we started to look at New Year’s resolutions as reward-based, and elements that reinforce the things you find most pleasant about your life?

With that in mind, I’m going to list a few education-based New Year’s resolutions that have a high likelihood of success, simply because they reinforce you, your core identity and sense of who you are and how you exist in the world.  Your New Year’s resolutions can be powerful reinforcers, and they can be tools as you bring together dreams and practical realities.

Here are New Year’s Resolutions:

1.  Explore life.  Treat education as an adventure.  Take the courses that pique your curiosity and challenge you to think of things in a new way.

2.  Take time to daydream.  Let your thoughts flow. Let them wander into new and uncharted areas, and imagine the ways your always-increasing knowledge is shaping your perception of the world.  What is the next resource play?  Why are people drilling horizontal wells in massive, high-water-content carbonates?  What was improbable yesterday has become a reality today.

3.  Play more.  Buy more toys.  Have you purchased an i-Pad or other tablet?  What happens when you carry around your texts that now reside in the Cloud, and you make them mobile?  Do you have access to the digitized images and texts you need?

4.  Eat your favorite food as you study, reflect, and discuss new knowledge, thoughts, ideas.  Reward yourself with food.  What if you overdo it?  Chances are, you won’t.  After all, people usually overeat when they’re bored or stressed. If you’re engaging your mind and your emotions in something that truly intrigues you, you’ll probably eat to satiety and no more.

5.  Share the joy.  Find a study-buddy.

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Last 5 posts by Susan Nash

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