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To think about what it means to make a ‘resolution’, particularly in the context of New Year.

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To think about what it means to make a ‘resolution’, particularly in the context of New Year.

Preparation and materials

Clip of Big Ben – countdown to midnight.


  1. Play the Big Ben clip above. All of you will have some memory about what you did to ‘see in’ the New Year last year. Many of us will have listened to a countdown similar to the one we have just heard.
  2. I wonder how many of you used the start of the New Year to make a New Year’s resolution. Ask for a show of hands. I won’t ask what the resolutions were, although I am sure they were all to ‘work harder’ and ‘be much better behaved in school’!
  3. There are a number of dictionary definitions of the word ‘resolution’. The main ones that are appropriate at New Year are:

    – the state or quality of being resolute; firm determination;
    – a resolving to do something;
    – course of action determined or decided on.

  4. In 2010, surveys showed that the top ten most common New Year resolutions for adults were:

    Enjoy life more (34.4%)
    Lose weight / go on a diet (24.4%)
    Get fit / start exercising (22.3%)
    Learn something new (22.2%)
    Find true love (21.6%)
    Get a better job (18.7%)
    Save money (18%)
    Pay off my debts (16.2%)
    Take a special trip (13.6%)
    Reduce stress (10.6%)

    After these came: Spend more time with family and friends; Stop smoking;  and Drink less.

  5. A survey of High School pupils recorded these New Year Resolutions . . . I wonder if you identify with any of them!

    Eat fewer sweets
    Be nicer to my sister! (Brothers too!)
    Improve my computer skills
    Do some voluntary work
    Improve my tennis
    Be nicer to my girlfriend
    Talk less in class
  6. Figures show that the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions will have been broken by the end of January – many by 2 January! Psychologists say that one reason for this is that we often set ourselves resolutions that are too hard to keep as, deep down, they are things that we don’t really want to do! We may like the idea of eating less as it will make us slimmer but, really, we would probably prefer to eat loads of chocolate!
  7. Because of the fact that we often fail in the resolutions that we don’t really want to do, a number of charities and health organizations now suggest that we should make resolutions that we have a good chance of keeping and that will also benefit someone else in some way. Suggestions are:

    – Decide to do something each day (or even once or twice a week) that will benefit the environment, e.g. turn a light off, walk to school rather than be given a lift in the car, recycle something that you don’t usually bother with.
    – Do something particularly kind for someone once a week, e.g. share a bar of chocolate, wash up, wash the car.
    – Give someone different a compliment.
    – Smile at someone or say hello to someone you don’t know.
    – Give to charity or take part in some voluntary work.

  8. The idea of these resolutions can be summed up in a verse from the Bible.

    Philippians 2.4 says, ‘Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.’ Small things like a smile or a compliment can make a huge difference to someone.
  9. It is never too late to make a resolution. Why don’t you take one of the suggestions above and see if you can make a difference, for the better, to someone else’s life?

Time for reflection

All of us have a choice each day as to whether we think only of ourselves or whether we think about other people and their needs. Most of us will have made a resolution to give something up or to do something that we think will be better for us. Many of us will already have given up on those resolutions. Why not take the time to think about the suggestions above. Is there one thing you could do to make the world a better place for someone else?

Dear God,
Help us never to forget that other people matter.
Help us to not always be so concerned about our own needs that we forget those around us.
Help us to resolve to put others first and to take action to make the world a better place.


‘Morning has broken’ (Come and Praise, 1)

Publication date: January 2011   (Vol.13 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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