How to make sure your New Year’s resolutions don’t fail

Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

Leading human behavior specialist, Dr John Demartini answers your questions below:

Why do people make New Year’s Resolutions?

There could be many reasons, but one common one is to compensate for the unfulfilling feelings that probably emerged during the holidays from overeating, over spending and under exercising. These temporary voids initiate temporary values, but not meaningful and lasting priorities.

In your opinion, how many people successfully achieve these resolutions?

Most people set unrealistic expectations on themselves and set only temporary external motivations that are only briefly driving them and within three weeks they go back to their normal habits.

Can making (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions negatively impact people?

Anytime you set goals or resolutions that appear to be important but are not truly important, this can result in self-depreciation. Your true highest values determine your perceptions, decisions and actions. Every decision you make is based upon what you believe at that moment will provide you with the greatest advantage over disadvantage, reward over risk. By setting resolutions or goals that are truly meaningful you increase the probability of achieving or sustaining them. Self-depreciation is a normal feedback to let you know you are setting goals that are not truly yours or meaningful.

What are the most common resolutions in your opinion?

To lose weight or start a diet, save more money or reduce expenditures, begin exercise routines, schedule more holidays, pursue hobbies and to start your own business.

Would it be better to stop making New Year’s resolutions?

Not necessarily, but only set resolutions that are truly important and aligned with your true highest values. Set real goals in real time with action steps that have meaning and you will build momentum and elevate your self-worth.

Is it better to set smaller goals over shorter time periods?

Setting mini goals that are aligned with your true highest values is wise. Break them down into baby steps so they can lead you to big dreams. Build momentum with daily achievements that are truly meaningful.

How can we achieve success with resolutions aligned to body confidence?

 Body dysmorphia emerges the moment you compare yourself to others and look up to or down upon them. Appreciate what you have been given. We are not here to compare ourselves with others and to put them above or below us. Nobody truly has a better or worse life, only a different life. Even super models often dislike half of their body so if you compare your body to theirs, you may unwisely assume theirs is greater than yours. Depression is often due to a comparison of your current reality to a fantasy or unrealistic expectation you are addicted to.

Advice for resolutions linked to love or romance?

Everyone wants to be loved and appreciated for who they truly are. Who they are is an expression of their highest values. By respecting your partner and identifying what is most important to them and helping them fulfill what is truly meaningful, they will appreciate you in return. Ask yourself: “How specifically does my partner’s highest values – what they are dedicated to - help me fulfill my highest values – what I am dedicated to? Then ask yourself: “How specifically is what I am dedicated to help them fulfill what they are dedicated to?”  Answer these questions dozens of times until you can truly appreciate what you both do for each other. You will have greater dialogue and less alternating monologues. Intimacy is based upon having each other’s highest values met. If you carelessly look or talk down to your partner they will get burned out. If you carefully look or talk up to them they will get bored. But if you caringly look or talk heart to heart with them they will open their heart back.

Some tips for resolutions linked to the workplace?

 List every responsibility or daily duty or action that you do each day and ask yourself how specifically does this action help you fulfill what you value most, or what is most important to you. If you cannot see the link and how it is on the way, you will see it in the way and you will be unfulfilled in your job. Nobody goes to work for the sake of a company or job. They go to work to fulfill what they value most. If you don’t fill your day with high priority actions that inspire and fulfill you, your day will fill up with low priority distractions that won’t.  Everyday take command of what is truly most important and stick to priorities and it will elevate your self-worth. Either go and do what you love through delegating or go and love what you do through temporarily linking your daily actions and responsibilities to your highest values until you can delegate them away.    

To determine what your highest values are, take Dr Demartini’s free online test on

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24