12/26/2012 11:23 am ET Updated Feb 25, 2013

Rx: New Year's Resolutions

I'm taking a pause from my "Passionate Pursuits" series to tackle a seasonal topic: New Year's resolutions. A great idea in theory, but not always in practice. My best advice for 2013 is to commit to learning something new today so that by this time next year, you will be proud of true results.

According to my research, people with successful careers keep enlarging what they know. By increasing your knowledge of your field, you expand the boundaries of who you are, giving you more courage and more career opportunities. Not only does this add value to the job that you have, it also makes you a more desirable candidate to future employers. Besides, developing new skills keeps you contemporary and is fun. So, if you need to learn more about the Internet and social media, sign up for group sessions or find a Generation Y tutor. If your transactional or social skills could use a boost, enroll in an improv class or public speaking program.

2013 is a good year to join your professional or political association or society. Warning: Don't be just a dues-paying member, instead, volunteer for a position on a committee to quickly get to know people who share your discipline and will be your colleagues, mentors, even protégés for years to come. If you're just out of college or caught between jobs, join your alumni group, which might offer career seminars -- low cost with useful information on job searching and networking in your area.

Many achievers develop avocations or have hobbies that complement their careers and enhance their personal lives. Choosing to express yourself creatively through the arts is a vital way to kickstart your spirit. By studying appreciation courses in music or architecture and/or learning the process yourself by throwing a pot or taking a photograph, you will develop a different kind of knowledge and at the same time, build an additional network of contacts and friends.

Losing weight is always at the top of everyone's resolution list, year after year. This time, commit to a plan that includes someone to motivate you and hold you accountable -- such as your spouse, a like-minded friend, a nutritionist, or a personal trainer. Be realistic about your goals and find a plan that you can live with for a long time, because the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your attitude toward food and exercise permanently.

Whatever your personal intentions are about making such changes, the key is to commit. This means physically signing up now, today. Don't wait until January 1 when the urge, while nice, could quickly pass. Enroll in a class at a local college, a university extension program, or online. Check out local churches and libraries for workshop offerings. Find a fitness program or gym that provides classes that excite you. Research weekend getaways at places like The Esalen Institute in Big Sur where you can explore new ways of communicating and self-improvement. Visit websites like, which tell you where you can take or teach classes on almost any topic in your own city. The options to expand your mind are endless. This year you have no excuse.

Think of your skill set as a wardrobe. Just as you wouldn't keep wearing the same clothes over and over, you must update your skills and behaviors. A caveat: Learning something new takes you out of your comfort zone. That means you will experience resistance and anxiety -- not only from yourself, but from those close to you. Silence the negatives and persist. As my late friend Susan Jeffers wrote, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." It's the only way you'll see results.

Make your luck happen!

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