article banner
From Where We Sit

Reiteration of prior years’ ‘New Year’s Resolutions’

Nelson Dinio

In our work as external auditors of various companies, we need to obtain or update our understanding of our clients’ businesses, assess their internal controls and processes, review their significant transactions and check for critical changes made during the period under audit, etc. During the process, we may note certain deficiencies in internal controls or processes of their companies and then we recommend ways to correct these deficiencies. These recommendations are discussed and agreed with management and the board of directors, and are formalized through our issuance of a management letter. The adoption and implementation of such recommendations, though, rest with the companies’ management.

However, there are instances when the deficiencies noted in the previous year remain uncorrected in the current year. This happens when the recommendations made and agreed during the previous year were not properly implemented or simply not implemented at all. In this scenario, we reiterate with the management the recommendation previously made until the deficiencies are corrected.

Does the scenario above seem familiar? In our lives, once another year comes to a close, we tend to look back and see what happened, and make a list of promises of things to do (or will not do anymore); yes, this is most commonly known as our “New Year’s Resolutions.” We routinely make these resolutions every year and then eventually notice: Aren’t these the same things that I promised to do last year and the year before that?

As we welcome 2017, my staff, Kaith and Kers, and I decided to conduct a survey of the top five New Year’s Resolutions that we, in the company, failed to keep. We interviewed 50 individuals, randomly selected, with ages ranging from 18 to 60, about their most commonly broken New Year’s Resolutions. The results of the survey are listed below:

#5 – “Be more diligent and stop procrastinating”
Doesn’t it feel great when you start the year right by having so much energy to do everything you need and want to do? Unfortunately for some, this can be a very hard task to make. Sure, some people have the “new-year-new-me” spirit during the first few weeks of the year as they try to do their best to achieve in a timely manner whatever goals they have set, but once a distraction appears, they get back to embracing the “mañana” habit and start singing Annie’s song again: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow.”

#4 – “Be on Time”
How many times have we used the terrible and obvious traffic in the city as the main reason for being late for work, meetings and even simple get-togethers? By now, the bosses have heard all the excuses for being late so subordinates should have worked out their solutions. People are fully aware of the consequences of coming to work late, but some just cannot resist the imaginary magnetic force pulling them back into bed for “just five minutes more.”

#3 – “Adopt a healthy lifestyle”
This does not pertain solely to control over the food we eat, but also to other unhealthy activities like drinking too much soft drinks and alcohol, smoking, and avoiding physically rigorous activities, such as hitting the gym for regular exercise. Though this landed on the third spot, I think this is one of the most commonly broken resolutions, as this requires a lot of willpower. After all, why bother going to the gym when you can just be a couch potato in front of your favorite movie series while bingeing on popcorn ice-cold sugar water, and without that small voice behind you chastising you as though you’ve committed a crime.

#2 – “Save money”
This is a very common resolution just after the holidays, since it is the time when people have grasped the extent of their spending on gifts and other luxuries for Christmas. Also, saving money is not an easy task for most people, especially to those whose careers are just starting to bloom and breadwinners who have families depending on them. Some people, meanwhile, cannot meet this objective because of the desire to reward themselves with material things from time to time for a job well done, to console themselves after a stressful day at work, or for whichever reason that would make buying that glamorous bag or eating at that fancy restaurant seem reasonable. We all have different ways of coping with stress—most of which involve spending, sadly.

And #1 – “Lose that weight/go on a diet”
It wasn’t a surprise at all that losing weight (with 85 percent of the respondents) lies at the top of our list of broken promises. This seems to be a product of guilt after consuming all those greasy and high-calorie foods during the holidays. Most of the people are having difficulty making this into a reality because eating is such a delightful hobby and again, a common way of dealing with stress.

Cliché as it may seem, the old saying rings very true in this case: these resolutions are “easier said than done,” as they require focus, discipline and a lot of willpower to fulfill. Making a list of the things you think you can improve on is a good practice, but there’s no need to wait for another year to pass to start doing them. If you already have the proper resources, delaying these resolutions would do you no good. As they say, “today is always the best day.”

Nelson J. Dinio is the head of Business Development Group and Japan Desk of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 partners and over 800 staff members. For comments, please email or For our services, visit our website,


As published in The Manila Times, dated 4 January 2017