Sophia asks about New Year’s Resolutions

Dr. Sohail, I wish I could say that I have been successful over the years with keeping my New Year’s Resolutions but I find it so frustrating when I make resolutions with my friends and family, only to be disappointed  in a few weeks when my enthusiasm diminishes. As the New Year approaches, I am thinking that I will not make any resolutions as this seems to not work for me. Is there a way I can approach it so that I have more likelihood of success?

Happy New Year!



Dear Sophia,

Over the years I have met so many men and women, like you who made New Year’s Resolutions but many of them, for different reasons, also could not keep them for very long.

Last year I asked four people, what their New Year’s Resolutions were. The answers included:

  • quitting smoking
  • quitting drinking
  • losing 40 pounds
  • going to gym five times a week


When I checked with them six weeks later they had only maintained their resolutions for a limited time, some for five days, others for five weeks. Just one person was still going to gym but only three times a week.

It has been my observation that most people make spontaneous decisions on New Year’s Eve when they are feeling euphoric and sentimental while celebrating with their family and friends. In my opinion any resolution, whether on New Year’s Eve or a birthday or any other day, is more likely to be successful, if it is well planned and is realistic.

A woman I know was successful because she started slow and received support from her friends. She started going to gym once a week, increased it to two to three times a week, and then maintained that frequency. Rather than starting five times a week and then coming down to three times a week and feeling like a partially failure, she increased from once a week to three times a week and felt successful. She also invited two friends who went with her to gym regularly. The days she felt unmotivated her friends picked her up and they went together. After a year she celebrated with her friends as she had lost thirty pounds.

I met another man who, rather than getting drunk, stopped drinking on New Year’s Eve and joined AA [Alcoholic Anonymous]. He also requested a person he respected to be his sponsor. The sponsor took special interest in his recovery and called him every day to encourage him to go to the AA meetings. With the help of AA and the sponsor, he has been successful in being sober for three years now and feels proud of his accomplishment.

Whether it is the resolution of stopping drinking or smoking, losing weight or going to the gym, it is a lifestyle change that needs realistic planning and social support. People who are successful in lifestyle changes usually develop the attitude of a marathon runner. They are like turtles and follow the motto of ‘slow and steady wins the race’. People who make impulsive decisions and have the attitude of a one hundred meter sprinter are usually successful for short periods of time. They do not realize that maintaining a lifestyle change is as important, if not more important, than making a lifestyle change. Slow changes are usually more lasting. Getting support from one’s friends or therapists and making long term realistic plan is significant in making a lasting change. Sometimes we need to plan for the whole year to make a New Year’s Resolution successful.

We would like to hear other stories of New Year’s Resolutions, the struggles and the successes. It might inspire others to make more realistic New Year’s Resolutions next year.


Dr. K. Sohail


7 thoughts to “Sophia asks about New Year’s Resolutions”

  1. Hello Sophia:

    First off, I commend you for even considering setting resolutions and having the courage to think of what might get in the way of your success. Like so many have spoken of before me, I too echo that small steps, support and encouragement from family and friends that have your best interest at heart are vital. However, being authentic to what the purpose of setting the resolutions is most important, do you set the resolution because it is expected, because it is what others think, because it is how you judge yourself? Be true to you and then follow that path, the challenge will be meaningful and important to you which will drive your success ultimately.

    1. I want to thank everybody who responded with such supportive feedback and great suggestions! I am really working on being kind to myself, as Jo had suggested. I have set some realistic goals about my workout. I really like Terri’s recommendation to create an intention. Each day I begin by making a commitment to workout and follow my eating plan. I have scheduled to workout every day with the understanding that some days it will not happen. I am keeping my workout short and doable, as Dr. Sohail suggested. I also want to make some adjustments to my diet but for now I am taking it slow and just figuring out the best foods to eat before and after my workout. When I get those changes smoothly in place I will look at the rest of my eating plan. I have been thinking about WC’s comment. What this resolution means to me personally, will be a significant motivator over the long term to becoming healthy!
      Thank you all so much!

  2. Hey Sophia,
    I too, have issues with finishing what I have started in life. I let myself get in the way of myself!
    So rather than making resolutions this year I have decided to take a different route.
    It started with a Facebook post that I saw New Years Eve and it had a very profound effect on me. I have always had a belief that i am a flawed person for many many reasons. Over the past year and a half I have taken on a new venture that has challenged many of my beliefs about myself, has taught me many basic life lessons that I missed as a child growing up, and exploded new thoughts and theories about how others see me and my place in the world. With these new beliefs, lessons and theories the end of this year was coming and I panicked about how I could align this new person with all this new knowledge that I am becoming without setting myself up for failure (which is different from what I have done in the past). When I saw this post it fit right into the direction I am taking in my life and reminded me of one of the most important messages that I have learned. It said ” Ditch the resolutions. To resolve means to find a solution to a problem. You are not a problem. The way you showed up for your life the past year was necessary for your growth. Now is a time to reflect. To learn. To create an intention, a positive call to shift, a spark of magic + Manifestation rooted in self-love and backed with action.
    So this year no resolutions for me, just an intention that is created with self-love and self-compassion and a detailed plan to promote positive action to further my growth!

  3. I would like to offer that New Years is a day and the idea of resolutions starting on only that day is a misunderstanding to say the least. During the year, we often run into little problems that we decide ‘I am not going to do that again’. Take the pressure off of New Years and start your new path to a success when you feel strong. If it is eating different, relaxing more, or as Dr. Sohail showed; writing a book, take the time to make the plan and set realistic goals. (realistic to you) I have found that the first step is to understand yourself and believe that you can do it!
    Good luck Sophia!

  4. Dr. Sohail I have been reading your blog with great interest. Thank you for sharing your professional insights on this blog. Regarding the new year’s resolution I agree that a well planned and thought out project has better chances of success compared to an impulsive attempt to achieve a lofty goal. My question is: is it possible to acquire and maintain a level of desire and motivation that in my opinion is the real drive behind any successful attempt to achieve a goal. Is there a method to doing that?
    Seasons Greeting.

    1. Dear Mansoor, You asked a million dollar question. What is the secret of maintaining the motivation. Based on my personal and professional experiences I can say that i found the following four secrets to success.
      1. Having a well defined goal. For example I decide to write a book. I give it a name. I decide it would have 10 chapters and 150 pages.
      2. Having well defined steps. For example I decide to write one chapter every month.
      3. Having support network. For example I share each chapter with five friends for their feedback.
      4. Review my goal and steps every 3 months.
      This is how i wrote my book Prophets of Violence, Prophets of Peace. I wrote a chapter each month and shared with my friends of Family of the Heart. After a year my book was ready. I am lucky to have a creative project each year and I am also lucky to have friends who keep me motivated. I hope this answers your question. I am curious what happens to you. Why do you think you lose your motivation and have a creative miscarriage? Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  5. Hi Sophia, I have found I set myself up for failure when I make specific New Year resolutions. For me the best resolution you can make is to try to be the best you can be and pat yourself on the back for what you achieve and there’s always next year!. Be kind to yourself and others, that’s the best gift of all. Good luck with your goals and happy. 2016!. JFT

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