By: Marilyn L. Davis


Faulty Logic of Resolutions

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ”
― Anaïs Nin

As a person in long-term recovery, I made many resolutions to stop drinking and using drugs, most of which were while I was high, couldn’t pay a bill, or hadhangover. That resolution lasted as long as I felt bad, or about 24 hours.

We in recovery frequently seem rude when we call social drinkers “amateurs” on New Year’s Eve. It appears to be a time that collectively, people include more alcohol than usual, and as such, resolutions get fueled by a substance that makes people say things they usually might not utter. 

But We All Make Resolutions on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve will find people talking about all the changes they will make in the upcoming year. The list would take up an entire page and still not cover all the things people talk about changing in their New Year’s resolutions. If I remember correctly, around 11:45 PM at most parties, someone would ask, “So, what’s your resolution?” 

Filling space, we blurt out the first thing that pops into our mind, or we mention a problem area of our lives that we vow to change because we believe we should promise to change Something

While we’re honest in our assessment that a particular aspect of our lives could do with an overhaul, making it a New Year’s resolution is almost always doomed to failure for three simple reasons.

1. We set this particular date/time up to publicly announce our changes without clearly defined goals. 

2. We like the idea of change but are sometimes unwilling to put the time, energy, and effort into changing. 

3. Even if we know what we need to change, we sometimes focus on an unrealistic outcome from incremental changes or adjustments. 

How often do you hear at parties:

  • “I have to lose 40 pounds.”
  • “I’m going to quit smoking.” 
  • “I’ll exercise more.” 
  • “I have to quit using drugs.” 

Resolutions Usually Involve Stopping Something

There is another interesting thing about resolutions. Given that these New Year’s resolutions follow a time of outright excess, no wonder those resolutions won’t work.

I question our collective logic. Starting around Thanksgiving, we indulge in excessive food, followed by gift-giving. With the addition of Elf-on-the-Shelfor Mench-on-the-Bench, now some children expect daily presents before the “big day.”

Talk about setting people up early for unrealistic expectations later in life. 

Since changing creates a sense of loss in many people, the idea of giving up something or stopping some behaviors implies to many that they will be uncomfortable keeping the resolution. 

What Am I Doing Wrong? 

 “Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.” ―Charles M. Sheldon

You probably hear these more than any other resolutions. And people are often serious when they make these resolutions. While all of those would improve their lives, how do they hope to carry out these changes? 

  • Do they have a projected stop date?
  • Do they know to expect discomfort?
  • Have they enlisted support when they have a craving? 
  • Are they going to change their eating habits?
  • Have they cleaned out the pantry and refrigerator of tempting foods? 
  • Are they even a member of a gym?!

Typically, our resolutions address what we’re doing wrong. While admitting wrong is a good thing, making global statements to change behaviors we’ve done all year does not reinforce change; it supports the judgment that we’re somehow wrong. It is not encouraging, motivating, or prompting of change simply because we state a need to change some behaviors at this particular time of the year. They often fall short of the resolution because they didn’t have a plan, incremental goals, or sub-goals or reverted to the behaviors they resolved to change in their resolution. 

Resolutions set many people up to experience more shame and guilt when they fall short of a resolution by the end of the first week in January. Click To Tweet

If Resolutions Don’t Work, Try Realistic Goals

 It’s interesting to note that only about 8% of the population are successful in their resolutions.So, what else can we do if we’re not typically successful in resolutions? 

We can set up realistic and achievable goals and sub-goals. A commitment to change, coupled with clear goals and sub-goals that are personal to you, will help make your resolutions important enough to follow through with them. 

If you’re going to lose weight,you’ll have to decrease calories or increase exercise.Fresh fruits and vegetables have fewer calories than potato chips, plus they are visually more appealing as a substitute, and you won’t feel deprived. There’s also another benefit. Preparing the food that we consume keeps us in the moment, andfor some people, this activity reduces stress,another contributor to weight retention. A cutting board of raw fruits or vegetables looks like more food than that bowl of chips, plus it’s vibrant and might lift your spirits.

Benefits of Following Through on Your Goals

“What will the next 100 days look like?”― Richie Norton


If Resolutions Don't Work, What Does? marilyn l davis from addict 2 advocate


So this coming year, forego the resolutions and opt for goals with a plan, then create actions to achieve your goal, whether it’s changing your diet, quitting smoking, getting more exercise, or giving up drugs and alcohol

Writing and recovery heal the heart.



Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.  

For editing services, contact her at 



How we say something is just as important as what we say. How you write about addiction and recovery will differ from mine. That’s okay because the more voices saying, “Recovery works,” the more people we reach. 

If Resolutions Don't Work, What Does? marilyn l davis from addict 2 advocate  

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