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New Year’s Resolutions: Why do they work? If not, Why not?

December25, 2009 15:12 | Discipline | Permalink

We have a tradition in our society of making new years resolution which involves setting goals; we make them with earnestness and a sincere desire to make meaningful changes in our lives. Unfortunately, we find ourselves disappointed when within a few weeks we have strayed away from the path often wondering, “Why does this happen?”Why do we fail in our resolutions?

Most of the goals are unrealistic and way beyond our capabilities
The goals are usually confused with objectives.
We do not have the discipline that is needed to accomplish goals
When we make a pronouncement to attain a certain goal without erecting support systems, we set ourselves for failure.
Most of the resolutions involve habits that are deeply ingrained in us and are controlled by the subconscious part of our mind. The conscious part of the mind which makes the resolution is unable to help us.

How do we make resolutions that are attainable?
To succeed we must be:
• Mindful of distinction between a goal and an objective
• A resolution is a goal that we wish to accomplish. The most important factor in succeeding is the distinction between a goal and an objective.

A goal is a source of inspiration, a statement of purpose which motivates us to make meaningful changes in our lives.

An objective is a meaningful small step that we take to make the goal attainable.

Example: If the goal is to be healthy for an obese person, the objective could be to loose two pounds a week. To be healthy will continue to inspire and the objective will continue to move this person towards an ideal weight.

Set Smart Goals
Each of the letters in smart goal planning stands for a meaningful idea in setting goals:

S – Short and to the point. Do not overload a goal
M – Meaningful in time and space
A- Attainable with the resources and support systems you have in place
R- Realistic and not a pie in the sky
T- Timely to meet and fulfill your needs

Create the discipline
We make resolutions to overcome habitual behaviors such as overeating, drinking. and smoking. These habitual behaviors become ingrained and are controlled by our subconscious mind.

In order to overcome these behaviors we need to engage in behaviors that are incompatible and compete with habitual behaviors and must be repeated over and over again to form new habitual behaviors.

The best way to form new habitual behaviors is to establish routines that are self sustaining and repeat themselves automatically.

Examples. Instead of having a drink to relax at the end of the day, sit down in a quiet place and meditate.

The urge to smoke after a meal can be overcome by going for a walk and breathing the fresh air.

The tendency to overeat can be overcome by drinking a whole 8 oz glass of water at room temperature 15 minutes before eating a meal


Before making any new yea’s resolutions please do some thinking and have a clear idea as to what your goals are going to be and how you are to achieve them. You may consult a professional if you needed some help to do so.

Dr. Prakash is a Corporate Wellness Coach and a Psychologist in private practice in the Metroplex.