New Year, New Resolutions – How Long Will They Last?

Psychiatry and Psychology CategoryI love the beginning of a new year, full of hope and promise and the idea that the slate has been wiped clean and a new start can be achieved. All over the world as the clock strikes midnight and amidst the streamers and celebrations, millions make resolutions to change in the New Year. The more popular ones include losing weight and saving money. Many of you may have already broken or forgotten yours.

Recently Mind, a British mental health charity, suggested that the process of making New Year’s resolutions can be unhealthy as we focus on the negative aspects of ourselves. I do not agree. I think we can only improve ourselves as human beings if we recognize areas of our lives that need correcting or revamping. Without a continued process of renewal and re-evaluation, how will we know how far we are in reaching our goals and what changes need to made? Only when impossible targets are set such as losing 50 pounds in one month will there be an element of frustration which leads to failure. Constant checks and balances ensure that we remain on the right path or are able recognize the wrong direction and correct it.

New YearIn 1998, Miller and Marlatt from the University of Washington’s Addictive Behaviors Research Center conducted a study of over 260 subjects to determine what makes a person more likely to fulfill their decisions. They found that persons who constantly reviewed their progress and found ways to resolve set-backs were more likely to attain their goals.

I think of the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to make a life audit — a 12-month “To Do” list of sorts — and then I make a plan of how I will accomplish each item. I ensure that it is written down so that as each month passes, I am reminded of what I wanted to achieve. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing an item off as “completed”. I wish you the greatest luck and hope that at the end of your year you will have been successful in at least one of your resolutions.


Miller, E.T. & Marlatt, G.A. (1998). How to Keep Up with Those New Year’s Resolutions: Researchers Find Commitment Is the Secret of Success.

Maria Goddard, MD

Maria Goddard, MD, is a medical doctor who has worked in medical research and clinical practice for several years. Her interests include traditional and alternative medicine as well as the sociological implications of certain diseases in particular populations.
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