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Every January, hundreds of millions of people make New Year's resolutions to improve their lives and to improve themselves. Every February, most resolutions have already been forgotten. Here are ways to reaching goals that don't work--and do.

In January of 2013, I resolved that I was going to get into such good shape that I could run a half-marathon by the end of the year. Over the next twelve months I a heart attack and a cardiac arrest and a mild stroke, and I was in the hospital four times. In January of 2014, I resolved I was going to live to the end of the year. I am happy to report I am, at the time I am writing this article, completely on track to achieve my goal.

One way of making sure you can keep your New Year's resolutions is to set a really low bar, for instance, breathing. But pop psychologists and New Age gurus suggest some other tools for success, that may or may not (usually not) work.

Just focus on the "vibration" of what you want and the Universe has no choice but to deliver it to you

Many people first became aware of the "law of attraction" with the 2006 publication of Rhonda Byrne's book The Secret. The premise of the book and of the film by the same name that followed was that experiences, events, situations, and material objects "match the frequency" of a person's thoughts and feelings. Just think the right thoughts, the book and the movie and thousands of imitators promise us, and you can't fail to have everything you want.

If you don't want to get fat, some theorists of the law of attraction advise, turn away when you see fat people. If you don't want to experience a natural disaster, turn off the news.

Ignoring the world around you doesn't always work out well.

An author I know who practiced "news avoidance" was caught completely off guard by Hurricane Sandy, sending out a desperate Tweet only when the winds blew down the trees in front of her house, asking what could be happening. 

But everything about the practices of The Secret and The Power isn't bad. Being clear about what you want to happen in your life really does help you achieve it--but it doesn't magically attract your goals to you.

You can achieve your goals with Emotional Freedom Technique

Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as tapping and EFT, is a method invented by psychotherapist Gary Craig that combines principles of acupuncture, neurolinguistic programming, and "energy psychology" to free people from emotional restraints. Most often used to relieve post-traumatic stress disorder, EFT has been adapted to supporting goal attainment. "Tap your forehead and say to aloud 'I win 50 million dollars in the lottery next Tuesday'" one New Age counselor advises her students.

And who knows, maybe someone will use EFT and actually win 50 million dollars in the lottery, or lose two dress sizes, or buy a Masserati. EFT is at least as valuable as acupressure, which uses some of the same principles, and it really can increase focus and relieve stress, but it will not make your desires and goals immediately materialize.

Inch by inch, life's a cinch

Mile by mile, life's a trial, by inch by inch, life's a cinch, John Bytheway said and televangelist Robert Schuller repeated. Many people believe that small changes in habits are all that they need to make big changes in life outcomes--and in some instances, they're right.

The problem comes when something interferes with that new, healthy, easy routine, and the whole program goes off track.

Flexibility sometimes requires moving ahead in life more than just a little at a time.

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