The Great Debate: Are New Year's resolutions worth making?

One hypnotherapist argues they're a false promise, while a Dubai nutritionist believes a new year brings new hope

The new year often brings with it plenty of self-made promises. Getty Images
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Every week, we find two people with opposing (or at least different) views on a topic to discuss the day's big (and small) issues. This week, in light of the start of 2020, we're asking clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Louisa Kiernander and certified nutritionist and yoga teacher Laura Weyel if New Year's resolution are pointless or pack a punch. One thinks they're a "false promise", while the other believes a new year brings new hope.

Read on to discover their arguments...

Louisa Kiernander: So, New Year's resolutions: do you think they work?

Laura Weyel: They do if you know how to manifest what you want. A lot of people want to better themselves at the start of a new year, with changes to their body, their relationships, their finances – and it's a great time to do it. But then they don't change their beliefs about who they are. Thoughts such as: "I am too old for this", "I am not experienced enough for that" or "men don't want a woman like me" will stop you from being able to attract what you want. These stories about yourself that you have in your mind squash your ability to create change.

Hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Louisa Kiernander believes resolutions are a 'false promise'

LK: But isn't it the person's attitude, rather than the date, that makes the change happen?

LW: Well, attitude is one thing. Doing the inner work is what leads to transformation and reaching your goals.

LK: I just don't think starting a new diary changes anything in terms of willpower. I don't think it being a new year makes it any easier for someone to make a change today that they couldn't make on their own yesterday, or a week before. Sometimes people call up asking about hypnosis and it becomes obvious they are hoping for a magic trick. We always tell them that they have to put some effort in, too, if they want to see changes. Hypnosis won't magically stop you eating chocolate every day, or make you get up from the sofa and go to the gym against your will. And the same goes for New Year's resolutions – making a declaration at the chime of the clock is not enough to cast a spell over yourself.  

LW: Of course I think it’s important to constantly evolve – at the start of a new year and all throughout the year – but, let’s face it, we get distracted and are busy. We are the smartest species on this planet, yet we use so little of our brainpower and we waste so much time and energy on unimportant things. Through my work I see it is easier to change when others around you are focused on change, too, such as at the start of the year. Then you can draw from the inspiration and motivation you see in others. It’s harder to change by yourself.

LK: Anything that boosts motivation is great, but I think resolutions are a false promise. We see more clients coming for our quit smoking and weight-loss programmes in February than we do in January. Normally, this is because they made a New Year's resolution to quit and then, before they know it, it's February and they are still smoking. At that point they are ready to throw the towel in and ask for help.

LW: It's true that starting a new calendar doesn't get results. The pure wish to change doesn't bring about change – in many cases, it actually leads to frustration followed by guilt. But this will be a problem any time of the year. If you don't learn tools for removing your obstacles, and creating what you want, you will never get to where you want to be. This is not something that is taught in school, so you need to learn it later in life, if evolving is important to you. I have changed my life from being depressed and stressed to living with purpose and feeling fulfilled and excited. I now pass on the amazing tools that helped me to empower others to create anything they want. 

LK: I hear what you're saying, and that's why I think the best time for change is when people realise that their same old resolutions just don't work, and their willpower is not enough to get them over the bridge and into a new way of living. We use hypnosis to communicate with the subconscious mind, which is where all of our emotions, fears and dreams come from. If you want to lose weight or quit smoking, but your subconscious still enjoys the comfort from that habit, it will be almost impossible to make that change long-term.

Nutritionist and yoga teacher Laura Weyel believes resolutions help spark change

LW: I have the same experience with my clients. Our destructive habits hold tremendous power. What I find to be the single most important factor for change is your desire and why you want to change. If you want to lose weight just to look better in a bikini, that's not a enough strong desire. So, when you look at that chocolate cake, the craving has more power. But, if your desire is to be around your grandkids for as long as possible, to see them grow up, and not die early of heart disease, then that's a more powerful fire that's burning in your heart than the craving of cake. The new year, with all its freshness and hope for a good year and positive change, is a great time to start this journey inwards.

LK: Perhaps for some, but ultimately, I think the best time of year to make a change is when you are finally fed up of the way you have been living and you are ready to put your hand up and ask for help. It's at that point that we can help people to re-programme their subconscious mind so they can actually make the changes they want. That inner struggle of wanting to make a change, but not being able to, is like a tug of war between two parts of yourself. We use hypnosis to help get both parts pulling the rope on the same side.

LW: With my wellness programmes, I help people to achieve health and wellness through nutrition, breathing, yoga and more.

LK: Either of these approaches can be done at any time of year.

LW: Yes, when there is no need for change, there is no need for New Year's resolutions. Only when it comes from the pain you feel of continuing to live like you have will you make it a priority. But I have not met many people who aren't suffering, so New Year's is a great time to face our challenges and overcome them – together. We all need power partners!

LK: Power partners – is that us?
I like the sound of that! It feels like we should have special outfits with logos on our chests.

LW: Awesome idea! Let's put this on our New Year's resolution list, shall we?