If you are an optimist, you will be waiting excitedly to see the new year in. If you are a pessimist, you will be waiting nervously to make sure the old year disappears. Either way, the odds are that you will be making a resolution or two. We have all made resolutions and broken them before the Christmas decorations have been taken down. There is one indisputable truth - 99.99 per cent of resolutions have about as much chance of changing our lives as Osama bin Laden has of being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Look at the evidence. According to research by a reliable source (me), the 10 most popular resolutions are to lose weight, cut alcohol consumption, quit smoking, exercise more, get a new job, reduce debts, be more environmentally friendly, relax more, take up a hobby and generally be nicer to everybody. They aren't working. The diet pledge is the funniest. The Western world has never been so obese. Have you been to the United States recently? It is like walking around the set of the Teletubbies. Of the US population of 305 million, 64 per cent are classed as overweight or obese. That figure is expected to rise to 75 per cent by 2015. Americans are clearly making weight-loss resolutions in between scoffing supersized Big Macs with fries. As for cutting down on alcohol, binge drinking is now almost a way of life in many countries, particularly during the festive season when some people get so drunk that they even kiss their wives and husbands. Smokers are sad cases, often beyond help. It would take more than a resolution to make them kick the evil weed. Even in Hong Kong, where the government has made smokers about as welcome as a flatulence sufferer in a lift, they continue to rush headlong to an early grave. Fitness clubs love January. They pocket a mountain of one-year subscription fees from people they know they will never see again after February. The exercise pledge can be filed alongside the diet oath in the pending tray. Get a new job? There aren't any, mainly because the US government forgot to honour the resolution to cut debts (sixth on my list) and let the financial sector topple under a landslide of toxic assets. As the recession bites and more of us lose our jobs, the prospects for reducing debts look bleak. Although we all want to be environmentally friendly, it is far easier to leave a size 11 carbon footprint by driving and flying everywhere while leaving the air conditioning on at full power during those sweaty summer months. As for relaxing more (resolution eight), how can anyone relax when they are overweight, drink and smoke too much, get no exercise, have no job, are mired in debt and fear that global warming will destroy the planet? That leaves taking up a hobby and being nicer to everybody. In my experience, people's hobbies and personalities are largely formed by the time they reach adulthood. OK, you can take up golf in later life but you probably won't be any good at it. And, if you have spent all your life being obnoxious and self-centred, it is probably too late to turn into Mother Theresa. This rather bleak picture of new year's resolutions won't deter anyone from making them. We all naively believe we can ditch our vices, particularly if we are female. My friend Gillian always made enough resolutions to paper her living room - and it was a big living room. When I was feeling brave, I would ask her why some of the items on her list looked very much like those she had written 12 months earlier. Hadn't she vowed to go to the gym twice a week at this time last year? Wasn't 2008 going to be the time when she stopped reading Cosmo and started reading Chaucer? Every year, usually in early February, her resolve cracked in spectacular style. She was surrounded by so many empty wine bottles that it looked as if her flat had been converted into a recycling depot. Then there are those women who have trouble making the right resolutions because they appear not to know what they actually want. 'I've had enough of useless men,' Sarah told me one January evening. 'This year I'm going to stop wasting time on men who can't commit.' This was followed in the same breath by: 'I don't like men who are too clingy. I'm looking for a man who can stand on his own two feet.' Compare such emotional gymnastics with the male of the species. Neither I nor any man I know has ever gone so far as to write down a new year's resolution. This may indicate a lack of commitment to the cause of self-improvement. Then again, it may mean that we couldn't find a pen. Either way, this approach allows any resolutions we do make to remain in our heads: vague, formless and easily ignored. A quick survey of my male friends has revealed that 2010 is going to be the year when they finally get around to doing, er, exactly what they have always done. May all your problems last as long as your resolutions.