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Making a Resolution

Not just for January!

by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2009)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider what it means to make a resolution, particularly in the context of the new year.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show the YouTube videos.

    Ask the students to think about how they celebrated on New Years Eve. Suggest that many of them will have listened to a countdown similar to the one in the videos.

  2. Ask how many of the students used the start of the new year to make a New Year’s resolution.

    You may wish to ask for a show of hands.

    Make the comment that, although you are not going to ask what resolutions everyone made, you are sure they were all to ‘work harder’ and ‘be much better behaved in school’!

  3. Point out that there are several dictionary definitions of the word ‘resolution’. The main ones that relate to New Years resolutions are:

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

  4. A 2019 survey showed that the top ten most common New Years resolutions for adults were:

    1. Get in shape
    2. Lose weight
    3. Enjoy life to the fullest
    4. Spend less, save more
    5. Spend more time with family and friends
    6. Get more organized
    7. Learn something new
    8. Travel more
    9. Break a smartphone addiction
    10. Get a different job

  5. A survey of high-school students recorded these New Years resolutions:

    1. Eat fewer sweets
    2. Be nicer to my family
    3. Improve my computer skills
    4. Do some voluntary work
    5. Improve my tennis
    6. Be nicer to my boyfriend/girlfriend
    7. Talk less in class

    Ask if any of the students identify with these!

  6. Figures show that most 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 because, deep down, they are things that we don’t really want to do. We may like the idea of eating fewer sweets because it will be better for our teeth, but really, we would probably prefer to rip open that packet and tuck in!

  7. Due to the fact that we often fail in the resolutions that we don’t really want to do, some charities and health organizations suggest that we should make resolutions that we have a good chance of keeping and that will also benefit someone else in some way. There are some suggestions in the following list.

    – Doing something each day (or even once or twice a week) that will benefit the environment, such as turning off a light, walking to school rather than getting a lift in the car or recycling something that we don’t usually bother with.
    – Doing something kind for someone once a week, such as sharing our food with a friend, washing up after a meal or washing the car.
    – Giving someone a compliment.
    – Smiling at someone or saying hello to someone we don’t know.
    – Giving to charity or taking part in some voluntary work.

Time for reflection

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.

It is never too late to make a resolution. Resolutions can be made any day, any time – not just at the start of a new year! Challenge the students to adopt one of the suggestions from the list in the ‘Assembly’, Step 7, and see if they can make a positive difference to someone else’s life.

Every day, we all have a choice as to whether we think only of ourselves or whether we think about others. 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 that we discussed earlier? Is there one thing that 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 not to 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.

Publication date: January 2020   (Vol.22 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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