New Years Resolutions:  Reality or Fantasy


Marsha B. Sauls, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

770-668-0350 x 221



Why do New Years’ resolutions very seldom become reality?  I believe it is because most resolutions are made in the same vein as wishes we make when we blow out our birthday candles. They are things we would like to have but not necessarily things we actually believe will happen. 


Changes in our lives require changes in our behavior.  Very often New Years’ resolutions like “birthday candle wishes” are things we want but we know that controlling our own behavior in order to achieve them is difficult for us. We therefore indulge in the fantasy of pretending that making a “magical” New Years’ resolution will make the behavior easier for us. Most of us have experienced the disappointment of this endeavor. 


Is it possible to make your New Years’ resolution a reality?  Certainly, but to do so requires one to evaluate carefully if one is willing to make a behavior change.  If so, make it small.  Behavior change is difficult. Be realistic. The most important thing to consider is that you are not going to make a behavior change without slipping up.  Give yourself a break   Include in your resolution a plan for recovery after a “slip”.  In fact, you could even make recovery after a “slip” your resolution. 


An example of a realistic resolution might be: I will exercise for 20 minutes three times a week.  If I slip up and do not exercise three times, I will approach the next week as I did January 1.  It will be a new beginning.  My New Years’ resolution will be to keep beginning over and over again each time I slip up.


Happy New Year to you and your family and Happy Resolving for 2002.