Expert tips on how to keep your resolutions

by Cat Stewart

If you’re anything like me, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to set yourself some unrealistic goals. You start dreaming of the perfect you; the you that you really wish you could be—tall, fit, and smart, with the perfect job and the perfect family. Oh, the possibilities. And then reality kicks in and you’re back on your unhealthy, imperfect routine.

But not this year. This year, thanks to this handy guide, you will keep your resolutions. Read on for what the experts have to say.

Resolution 1:
Keeping Your House Clean
This is a big one. You’re busy, you’re family is busy, and the housework gets neglected. The neighbours don’t know it, but behind closed doors your home is a complete disaster zone in between weekend cleaning binges. Never fear, Chez Vouz, the top, foreigner- friendly maid and babysitting service provider, have some great tips for a clean start in 2007!

In work and in life, do what you are good
at and what you enjoy doing: don’t try
to fill in weaknesses, instead uncover
your strengths and run with them.

• Tip number one: open the windows in the morning and during the cleaning. Let the air circulate and bring some positive energy to your home. Even the Tokyo air is fresher than your shoe closet!
• Tip number two: shine those metallic taps and mirrors. Don’t let a layer of dust get in the way of your hair styling in the morning! This household chore is one of the easiest to take care of.
• Tip number three: buy a tray. This is a great little trick for dealing with all the loose coins from your pockets, the receipts from your wallet, the keys you would otherwise be looking for every morning. When contained, these necessities become easier to look at, and easier to find.

These small steps can go a long way to making your life more comfortable. And if you do fall behind with the housekeeping, help is at hand:

Resolution 2:
Finding Fulfilment at Work and Improving Yourself
More often than not, we find ourselves not where we want to be, professionally. When it comes to our careers, we may find ourselves unfulfilled, yet unsure of how to proceed, and insecure about our potential. Not this year, however. This year you will be all that you know you can be, and get the qualifications and skills to have the job of your dream. Philip O’Neill from McGill MBA University, however, suggests that we follow our heart for the road to success.

• In work and in life, do what you are good at and what you enjoy doing: don’t try to fill in weaknesses, instead uncover your strengths and run with them.
• To develop as a manager or businessperson and move up in your career, study while you are working with experienced people with a wide range of backgrounds. This allows you to reflect on the concepts that you are learning and apply what is appropriate in your work. You could find such an opportunity in the McGill MBA Japan program.
• If you have been thinking about starting a program of study, make this year the starting point. Go ahead and do it. Check out

Resolution 3:
Be a more well-rounded person…or make it a goal.
You might have avoided taking on new activities in the past for lack of time, but spreading your wings in different directions could be just the thing for reevaluating your priorities and direction. For inspiration, we turned to a Jack Nicklaus Golf Center professional golf instructor, Yukiko Fukawa for her thoughts. She gave us advice on improving your life through your golf swing—because in the game of life, the same rules apply.

• New motto: “I will think positively.” You must commit to a positive attitude that will allow you to mentally improve your golf game. Making a habit of repeating a positive statement a few times a day, every day, 365 days a year will help your golf. Consider telling yourself: “I am healthy and strong, I’m thinking positively. I will become a better golfer because I know I can do it. When I really make an effort to do something, I have always succeeded. I can see myself in the future with a smile on my face because I accomplished my goal!”
• Pick a pro-golfer the same age as you and study his/her swing. Look at swing sequences everyday. Have copies of that swing on your bathroom mirror, fridge, desk, car, anywhere. Just having an image of a good swing will help you improve your own swing.
• Decide on goals to commit to: break 100, 90, 80, or play 50 more rounds this year, take 10, 20, 30, lessons, etc. A concrete number will make your resolution more REAL and clear. So take a good look at your skills and priorities and set a decisive goal for yourself!

Resolution 4:
Making your Child a Genius
Now, you yourself may not be the brightest star in the sky. But we all want our kids to be better than ourselves. You may love you children just the way they are, but wouldn’t it be cool if they turned out to be little geniuses as well?

All joking aside, there are lots of things that can be done to ensure your child is nurtured in the best educational environment for his or her needs. So without further ado, here are some expert tips from Gymboree instructors on how to do this.

• Relationships and experiences children have in their first three years of life have a profound impact on their future. Gymboree focuses on helping children acquire the key ingredients—motor skills, social skills and selfesteem—they need to grow into confident, happy and successful people.
• Opportunities to play are really opportunities to learn. During play children learn and practice social skills, develop cognitive abilities like problem solving, and refine language skills.
• Kids love to move and need to move! During classes, children should learn good sportsmanship skills in a fun, non-competitive environment that emphasizes cooperative play and movement. Your child should learn how to take turns, communicate in a group atmosphere and collaborate with peers.

Resolution 5:
Improve your Japanese (finally)
In Japan, lack of language skills makes everything more difficult. You envy the foreigners who tackled the nihongo hurdle face on and  survived. We decided to pick the brain of Ben, once a “Japanese as a second language” learner, today a bilingual sales professional. His main suggestion was to focus and decide what you really want to study, be it conversation, business, kanji, etc. Is your purpose to function at work or do you just need everyday phrases for getting by?

• For conversation there are many good classes and even some free at your local municipal office, but nothing beats a one on one language exchange. Try language exchange cafés or look for a potential language partner through classifieds in the free magazines.
• For business Japanese it’s best to choose a reputable language school (recognized by the Association for the Promotion of Japanese Language Education). If you are a working professional, try to get classes before work when your mind can focus more easily. Plus you can try out what you have learned with your Japanese colleagues. Goal-wise, always look towards the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) as your would-be employers would look at this to measure your level of proficiency.
• Problem sticking with the books? Try alternative approaches to learning such as flashcards (good for kanji), online tutorials, even a great cell phone service called Tango Town with phrase books, and daily mini lessons.

With these tips, you too could become a fully functioning, literate, even integrated member of Japanese society.

So take a good look at your skills
and priorities and set a decisive
goal for yourself!

Resolution 6:
Improving your health and fitness
Maybe you’ve yo-yoed through every diet out there or perhaps you just need to freshen up after a season of holiday feasting. Either way, resolutions to keep fit are usually the hardest to keep. Luckily, Yuomi Kikuchi, manager of the Grand Hyatt Hotel Roppongi’s Nagomi Spa and Fitness Club, has manageable advice for keeping your body healthy.

• Start your day by eating fruits in the morning with yogurt. The sugars and vitamins will give essential energy for starting the day and a boost to your immune system.
• When breathing, take deep breaths in and out for stabilization of the mind. This will increase the oxygen level in the blood, helping you relax, while at the same time increasing brain activity.
• Implement a small amount of exercise on a daily basis, even just five minutes of cardio a day (think taking the stairs at work). These short sessions of activity will go a long way to improving your health.

So, what are you waiting for?
A big thank you to all the experts for providing us with their tips, and now it’s up to you to keep those New Year’s resolutions. I know I’ll make a sincere effort to. See you this time next year, and I’ll introduce you to the new and improved me.