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9 New Year's Resolutions That Actually Worked

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For most of my life, New Year’s Eve has been a Very Big Deal. Why? Because it’s my birthday. I always wanted it to be spectacular, and even more than most people, I guess, midnight on Dec. 31 became a demarkation line between old and new, past and future. In my mind, the success and fun of a New Year’s Eve celebration seemed to have a lot to do with the success of the coming year.

As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve grown tired of big birthday parties and all the stress and drama attached to a symbolic milestone. That apathy has spread into my New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always made them—I’m a goal-oriented person, after all. I always start this new calendar year and new year of my life with a list of things I hope to accomplish, but I rarely follow through with all of them. Everyone’s that way, right? So for inspiration this year, I started looking for resolution success stories—people who made a major life change on January 1 and stayed with it all year long.

Here are a few of those stories. Maybe they’ll give you some ideas, and some inspiration to keep at it in 2014.

  • 9 New Year’s Resolutions That Actually Worked 1 of 10
    new-years-resolutions-that-worked

    Get inspired for 2014 by these success stories...

  • Walked for His Wedding 2 of 10
    wedding

    After suffering a spinal cord injury in 2007, Brock was told he had only 1% chance of ever moving his legs, much less walking again. But eventually he learned to walk with canes, and after setting his wedding date for 2012, resolved to walk down the aisle without assistance. He overcame the odds with hard work and faith and left the canes behind on his wedding day. His next goal is to try to walk a 5K without his canes. [Full story / photo credit]

  • Ditched Drinking Calories 3 of 10
    coke

    Jamie realized how many calories she was taking in by drinking soda every night and also discovered that the sugar and caffeine had begun disrupting her sleep. So she vowed to cut out soda as a new year's resolution. "This was a major lifestyle change for me," she said. But she avoided the temptation all year long by refusing to buy sugary drinks or keep them at her house. Today she sleeps much better. [Full story / photo credit]

  • Stopped Driving Too Fast 4 of 10
    speeding

    Elisabeth got three speeding tickets the first week after getting her driver's license and was dropped from her parents' car insurance by the time she graduated from college. Despite having never been in an accident, she heard that speed is a contributing factor in 31 percent of fatal car wrecks. Once she became a parent, Elisabeth vowed to slow down. Initially the speed limits frustrated her—she arrived places late and felt the slow pace made her irritable—but eventually overcame the unsafe speeding habit…for good. [Full story / photo credit]

  • Quit Doing Predictable Things 5 of 10
    drinks

    Sarah thought her social life had become too predictable, since it mostly consisted of having drinks after work with the same people, week after week after week. So for the next year, she made a resolution to try something new, socially, every other month. Over the next 12 months, she attended events like a wine-tasting, a comedy club, and a poetry reading, and feels the activity has made her a much more interesting person. [Full story / photo credit]

  • Faced Her Fears 6 of 10
    tarantula

    In 2011, Sharon decided to face her many fears by deliberately doing things she was afraid of. She tried skateboarding. She picked up a tarantula. She began speed-skating. She signed up for and finished a triathlon. "When you do things that scare you and it pushes you outside your comfort zone, it allows you to see the potential you have," she said. [Full story / photo credit]

  • Lost 87 Pounds and Ran a Marathon 7 of 10
    runningshoes

    By the age of 25, Kasandra had reached 240 pounds and grown ashamed of her weight. She started cutting the tags from her clothing and cropping photos to only show her head and shoulders. As a medical professional, she began seeing medical records of young people who suffered heart attacks due to their weight. It got her attention. She hired a trainer and nutritionist, began visiting a new gym near her office, and started seeing a therapist to help her with food-related emotional issues. Today she's lost 87 pounds and has run a marathon. [Full story / photo credit]

  • Stopped Gossipping 8 of 10
    whisperinggossip

    Meghan began feeling guilty about discussing people behind their backs, so one year she swore off gossip as a new year's resolution. She thought it would be easy. It wasn't. When she began passing up opportunities to gossip, her friends didn't understand, and she found it isolating. But eventually her refusal to talk about friends turned into a willingness to listen more. "It forced me to slow down and be in the present, as all health and happiness advice tells you to be," she said. [Full story / photo credit]

  • Logged Off Facebook 9 of 10
    nofacebook

    Brad decided "Facebook-stalking" his exes and looking at former classmates' baby photos was taking time away from real-life interaction. So he stopped logging into Facebook altogether and kept off the social media site all year long. [Full story]

  • Said No to Materialistic Parenting 10 of 10
    toystore

    In late 2012, after losing her job six days before Christmas, Hattie made a new year's resolution to save money during the following year by curbing her spending on what she calls "kiddy consumerism"—which meant foregoing new toys, new clothes, factory-produced foods and snacks, expensive activities, and other children's products she felt were too materialistic. She started a blog called "Free our Kids" and detailed her attempts to raise a child for a year without spending any money on kid stuff. [Full story / photo credit]

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