While people look to the New Year for an inspirational platform to a better future, and a chance to change their lives, most people just use it for temporary change. I see this in all aspects of life, people will change for short periods of time, but usually it is not a long term effect. If you want change in your life, go for it each day, there is no reason to use an arbitrary day such as New Year's to make that change. Those who have pushed it off until the New Year are much less likely to succeed than the motivated person who tried to begin implementing change a few weeks back.
1) Studying More - the brain is conditioned to where you currently have it set at, I did not go from playing 3 hours of poker a day to 12-14 hours most days by simply making a massive jump in hours. My brain would not be ready for this and would burn out extremely quick. It needs to be conditioned to the longer hours by increasing it's tolerance on a daily/weekly basis over time. The same can be said with attempting to focus on studying for longer or any task that needs focus. After the New Year, people will generally mean well, but they will over compensate, thus driving themselves to exhaustion and a plateau. At this point, you will see them throw in the towel often and head back to old habits.
2) Working out and hitting the gym - Inevitably, the people who want people to know they lift on facebook or social media, will post about how upset they are that the gym is super packed with people who just made a New Year's resolution to get in better shape. They will also comment how the people will be gone in a month, and this is true for the majority of these new gym go-ers. But WHY? It is because they have yet again not gone about conditioning themselves at the right pace. By going from almost no training or nutritional discipline to all of the sudden four days of lifting and a strict diet, they will inevitably fail. You need to build it up, it's the same through out all of life. You put in the time and practice to continually get better and it just does not happen instantly.
3) Being a better spouse - Again, usually people will rush this and do too much at once, wearing themselves out.
I wanted to keep this short so I will sum it up and give tips. NEW YEAR'S EVE is a CON-ARTIST, he gives the majority of people a false hope for the coming year, until to disappoint them and let them fall back in to poor habits. There is hope though, you can alter your New Year by taking a better approach than you have in the past.
1) The first step is to realize that improving yourself is a process and not an instant fix.
2) From here, read some topics on the subject you are approaching to familiarize yourself. For working out, you have countless forums and resources across the internet that will be a great step in learning the curve to take. For a couch potato, this will most likely begin with some light cardio and a few weeks of light weight lifting just to get the body used to some physical activity without destroying the body in to complete shock. Over the next month, the person may progress to slightly heavier lifting, while beginning to learn a little bit about nutrition and implementing it.
4) BEFRIEND OTHERS who are more intelligent than you on fields. This is the most under utilized resource that most people do not tap in to enough. Your learning curve is accelerated exponentially when you have someone's brain to pick that is much more knowledgeable on a topic than yours is. Do you want to get in to real estate, ask a friend who has been successful for it out for some drinks and pay for a night on the town while picking his brain. Make sure that you are prepared and have done some research and learning on your own first though. Those who are smart in their fields hate to waste their time. They do not want to sit their discussing the absolute basics with you, and this information is available all over the internet. Do your research, and then write down questions on the stuff you do not fully grasp along the way. These are the questions that will be the best leveraged to increase your knowledge on the topic.
5) Compete with others - Perhaps find people who have similar aspirations to yourself, and set up friendly ways to compete with them so you have more drive to attain your goals.
That's all, be a better person in 2014, but don't fall in to the pitfalls that almost everyone else does. Set attainable goals with time frames, and utilize the resources you have at your disposal more wisely than you had in the best. Have a great New Year everyone.