Do You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions?

Why we fail to achieve our goals and what to do about it

By Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/N

Each holiday season, I prepare a column filled with different New Year's resolutions to consider. Most focus on exercise techniques, meal planning, weight loss, and ways to build more supportive relationships. This time, I decided to try to find the answer to an age-old problem - why we fail to keep so many of our New Year's resolutions.

Chris McManus, a professor of psychology and medical education at University College London, has some thoughts on this subject. Here is a brief summary of what he shared in a recent article published in the British Medical Journal:

1 - Sometimes we don't really want to change.

Think about the goals you set as each New Year approaches. Perhaps you want to walk more, Smoke less, or eat more veggies. Your reasons for doing so may be good, but deep inside you may not really want to make that change at all. The gap between what you hope to accomplish and what you actually wish to do can prevent you from reaching your goal.

2 - Your resolution may be a fantasy.

Many of us have dreams of how our lives can be. Your resolution may only be a wish that you hope to do one day. It is nice to say that you are in favor of changing a certain behavior, but you haven't made any real commitment to making that change.

3 - You lack a time frame.

To quote McManus, "Even the most solid of intentions can fail, as the fickle finger of fate causes a slip ‘twixt cup and lip." We all procrastinate occasionally; some more than others. It is easy to put off a commitment if you haven't set a specific time goal. If you really want to keep this year's resolution, be sure to think about how you plan to fit it into your current schedule. Set a real goal with a starting time.

The most interesting thing about all of this is that regardless of how many times we have failed, most of us will make a new resolution the following year. We are optimistic about our goals. If we can harness that positive attitude and put it to real use, we can reach those goals.

At the end of Professor McManus' editorial, he says that he doesn't plan to make any New Year's resolutions, but I would like to. I'm not certain what I'd like to choose, but I do plan to make one. I also expect to keep it this year. It will have something to do with food, of course, and I may even throw in a bit of exercise for good measure. Whatever resolution I select, I will think about it carefully and only start it once I have found a way to fit it into my hectic schedule. Well-designed and appropriate New Year's resolutions can set you onto a more healthful path. Pick your resolution, fit it into your life, and go for it!

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.


Last Modified Date: June 20, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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