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Do New Year's resolutions ever work?

The new Year is traditionally a time of new beginnings and fresh starts - out with the old and in with the new. Following the festive excess, it's the time many of us feel compelled to make a handful of New Year's resolutions - to give up smoking, cut down on the alcohol we consume, vow to exercise more or to generally be a much better person in all areas of our life - family, work, health and romance.

But do resolutions ever really work? And is it worth making a promise that, at the back of your mind, you know you are already halfway to breaking anyway?

TO MAKE changes in your life, you have to make a decision or two at some point and the New Year is a great time to start, although I keep on making changes all through the year.

I am a traditional Scot who was brought up in northern Scotland so the New Year has always been more dominant to us than Christmas.

You might think after the Christmas excesses, 'Oh my God, I'm never going to the pub or having an alcoholic drink again!' But in a few weeks' time you are knocking back a glass of wine.

But you need to stick to resolutions.

My grandmother would always clear the house of all its clutter on New Year's Eve and I have always done the same.

It is also a time to clear out our mental clutter and to make new starts and chances.

You can think about your life, and if you don't like any aspects of it you can decide what you can do to make changes.

You can start by making little changes and thinking big.

If you long to find Mr Right or Prince Charming, you won't find him sitting at home unless you are very lucky and a handsome electrician turns up at your door!

Nobody is going to attract someone if they give off negative body language signals that they are desperate and lonely; no one is going to go near someone if they think they are a bunny boiler.

So singletons could go salsa dancing and get out, meet new people and mix with another circle of friends.

That is the way to open up possibilities and that is the time you will be giving off the right, positive signals.

One of my resolutions will be to see more of my daughter.

January is a great time to start looking for a new job if you are unhappy at work. So get your CV out, have a fresh look at it and bring it up to date.

Get a friend you trust to let you know how you can sound better. They will know good aspects about you that you may forget to mention. You could start a new course which will give you a range of new skills.

Most people I know have had a rubbish year and there have been many natural disasters, but I have a feeling the coming year will be a happier one.

OK, SO IT'S New Year, a time for reflecting on the highlights and mistakes of the past year and for trying to make sure not only that the coming year will be far better than the last one but we will be better individuals by the end of it

This is a tall order, but for some reason we can fool ourselves that this goal is possible at the start of January more so than at any other time of the year.

Popular resolutions include: spending more time with family and friends, fitting in fitness, taming unsightly bulges, quitting smoking/ drinking, and generally making more of our lives.

Well the intentions are good. But the problem with all this positive thinking is that it just doesn't last and we soon slip back into our regular routines and habits because, secretly, we like it that way.

Smokers know they should get patches to ease them off their nicotine cravings to save them, and those near them, from lung damage.

And on New Year's Eve they will be savouring the last puffs of the 'cancer sticks' in the true belief that this cigarette is 'the very last one' - yeah, right.

Drinkers who overdid it again at the office party and said something to their colleagues that they cringe to recall or who got into a clinch with the office romeo, yet again, will be thinking to themselves, 'never again!'

Slimmers will be considering joining their local versions of Little Britain's Fat Fighters, by counting their calories as soon as the countdown to midnight of New Year begins.

They will be imagining how they will look great if they can only get into those size 12 jeans once again by the middle of February - just in time for a new range of spring wear.

All these resolutions have a good chance of lasting a week, maybe even two, but most are forgotten about by February.

Smokers under pressure will turn to their cigarette breaks to ease the stresses of daily work and family life.

Drinkers will soon find that letting their hair down with a bottle of Perrier water does not quite have the same desired effect as alcohol does.

And slimmers will eventually chuck away the Ryvitas in favour of a three-layered passion fruit cake with extra dollops of whipped cream - because they like it.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 29, 2005
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