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This Year I Will...

3, 2, 1, Happy New Year! 

010212-1 On the Gregorian calendar, January 1 begins the New Year. January is named for the god Janus whose two faces allow him simultaneously to look back at the past and into the future.  Ancient Romans celebrated the New Year by leaving gifts for Janus and exchanging gifts with others. Contemporary celebrations continue the festive tradition with parties, fireworks, and feasts. Every year, countless people also begin the New Year by making a New Year’s resolution, a promise to change or to improve a facet of their life. Approximately 45% of American adults resolve to do something different in the New Year. For many, these resolutions become a to-do list for the first two weeks of January, and then they fade, unfulfilled. However, for others, they become the catalyst for enduring change.

What topics make for the most common resolutions? Why do these topics make enduring and powerful resolutions? What steps can you take to increase your likelihood of succeeding? What resources might help you stay on track?

This week you will examine some of the most common resolutions people make, learn how to set up a resolution that has better odds of succeeding, and explore resources to help you achieve your goals.

Most Popular Resolutions

What do you predict are the most common New Year’s resolutions? Jot down several broad categories (i.e. health). Now, write two specific goals for each category.

Interestingly, the resolutions that are most common do not change from year to year. New Year’s resolutions are all about improvement: becoming healthier physically emotionally, or financially. Some people create resolutions for themselves as individuals. Others focus on their role within a family or a larger community. 

010212-2 View an infographic of the most common 2011 resolutions. Click anywhere on the image to get a larger look. Click on the arrow along the right margin to move to the next pop-up window. (There are four windows.)

What does the infographic reveal are the most common resolutions? How do your predictions compare: which of your predictions are on the list and which are absent? How do these resolutions fit into the categories you predicted? Do any of these resolutions surprise you? Why?  In a small group, compare your predictions. Discuss how the statistics for six resolutions support the need for change. 

Drinking less, becoming healthier, reducing debt, increasing savings: year after year, these are the stuff of New Year’s resolutions. Why do people return to these resolutions? In what ways is each topic significant?

Organize small groups of students so each researches one of the following common resolution topics: drink less alcohol, eat healthy food, get fit, lose weight, manage debt, manage stress, quit smoking, save money, and take a trip. USA.gov provides helpful resources for each topic. You can find out more about alcohol’s impact on your health. Learn more about the food groups and eating healthy food. Complete two widgets and receive health advice and ways to stay active. Learn more about weight loss for life. Explore money matters. Find techniques to manage stress. Find tools to help you quit smoking today. Discover American travel destinations. As a group, create a presentation to introduce classmates to the site(s) you explored and to teach them more about your topic and how it has a significant effect on lifestyle.

This Year I Will...

What are your resolutions this New Year? Perhaps a little brainstorming will spark a meaningful personal resolution. For a little help, view This Year I Will. Click the Gimme More button to see more resolutions. Share your responses to some of these ideas. Adopt one New Year’s resolution, either from this site or of your own creation.

010212-3 You have a greater chance of fulfilling your goals if you follow a few S.M.A.R.T. guidelines. Read more about how to set up your resolutions. Spend some time now rewriting your resolution so that it is S.M.A.R.T. What specifically do you aim to do? How and how often will you measure your success? What small steps will you work toward? It will also help to write your resolution using positive language. Instead of “I will not bite nails” try “I will let my nails grow and take care of my nails and hands.” Use the power of friends and family; share with others what your goal is. It will help to have others cheering you on and holding you accountable. Remember that it takes thirty days to form a habit. What initial steps and support will help you achieve your first goal?

New Year’s is a time of new possibilities. When we set resolutions, we aim to become better and better. With some planning, those possibilities become reality.