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3 reasons to nix those New Year's resolutions

(MoneyWatch) January 1 always offers a tantalizing gift: the chance to start over again. We think that the right resolutions will make us more productive, healthy and successful. But productivity guru David Allen, author of "Getting Things Done" (and the creator of the widely-adopted GTD system) says that he doesn't make New Year's resolutions. Here's why -- and why you should reconsider the practice, too:

1. Review your life more frequently. Many of us don't step back from our lives except on big occasions like New Year's or milestone birthdays. But Allen and GTD enthusiasts schedule regular reviews (usually weekly) to study any open loops and look at where things are going. "There's no difference between New Year's and any other time," he says. "If you want to do something new, that probably should happen whenever that should happen." If you realize you're out-of-shape and want to change that, why wait until January to do so?

2. Focus on the positive. "People don't pat themselves on the back like they ought to do," says Allen. Instead of New Year's resolutions -- which focus on what you haven't managed to do in your life -- he recommends trying New Year's "recollections." Allen and his wife sit down and reminisce about, "basically, what did we accomplish, what did we experience that was cool and interesting?" They keep track of these memories and have a database of great things that happened over the last 10 years. "Looking back at those notes, at what happened that year, that gives us a sense of completion." It also reminds them of fun activities they'd like to try again in the coming year.

3. Finish old business -- and gain inspiration. "People would be much farther ahead just cleaning up at the end of the year, as opposed to moving things forward," says Allen. Call that person you kept saying you'd call. Schedule that lunch. These nagging tasks left undone suck energy away from trying to change your life. "If you try to set goals -- to recalibrate or refocus -- and you've got old business hanging around your neck like an albatross, good luck," says Allen. After all, most New Year's resolutions fail. But tackling a few things on your to-do list? That you can do, and success breeds success.

Do you make New Year's resolutions?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Magnus D
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