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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Resolutions (12/29/03)

TITLE: New Years Resolutions: Triumph Or Tragedy
By Stephen A. Peterson
01/02/04

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For roughly ten days after the first day of Christmas, estimates are that more than 150 million Americans will boldly but hastily conceive New Years resolutions. For most, it is routine steeped with promises to eat healthier, lose weight manage money more fugally or patch up a relationship gone sour. According to University of California, Berkley and Gallup Poll surveys found nearly two thirds of the individuals questioned reported having six or more resolutions. However, within 30 days of making these resolutions, nearly eighty percent had failed to maintain their resolutions. Yet when these same researchers returned within 30 days, they learned that sixty-three percent of their subjects reported they still kept working on their number one New Year’s resolution.

So who are the wise gals or guys who started the New Year’s resolution tradition? The oldest known recorded instance of New Year’s resolutions was the Babylonians around 2000 B.C. The most popular Babylonian resolution was to return borrowed or stolen farm equipment to its rightful owners. In those days, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox. For New Year celebrations lasted for eleven days with festivities that would be a side show in today’s modern world.

As Babylon’s prestige in the ancient world waned, its tradition did not. Celebration of the New Year along with resolutions spread throughout the Eurasian world. Significant changes to the celebration of New Years and resolutions saw came about as Rome dominated in Europe and the Middle East. Julius Caesar changed the date and celebration of New Years to January 1st. Caesar’s change has, for the most part, remained as the day most European and many Middle Eastern societies celebrate New Years and establish resolutions designed mainly to resolve social differences with local communities.

Modern day resolutions moved from attempts to ameliorate social conflict to resolving individual habits and problems sometime during the rise of the Enlightenment Period in 16th century Europe.

Behavioral experts and specialists report that the majority of people who develop resolutions truly believe they can make positive changes in their lives. Yet in the Berkley study the results indicate too many view resolutions in a narrow time frame. We who are behavioral scientist believe most can make positive changes in their lives. Yet in the University of California study, findings indicate too many view resolutions in a narrow time frame. Those of us who are behaviorists know and readily admit that habits are difficult to change once they become established. Therefore, habits often require time to modify with lapses a part of the process. Even if the process is successful, follow-up is generally needed that may take not one year but several.

TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR RESOLUTIONS:

-Be committed to make a change.
-Have two maybe three. resolutions (more is not necessarily better).
-Have coping strategies to deal with problems that come up.
-Keep track of your progress. The more monitoring you do the better people tend to do.
-Seek the support of a trustworthy person you feel you can share your resolutions with in confidence and who will give you an honest assessment of your progress.

REASONS RESOLUTIONS FAIL:

-Too many resolutions.
-Unrealistic strategies for achieving them.
-Giving up too quickly.
-Framing your resolutions as absolutes by saying, “I will never, ever do “a”, “b”, “c” again”.

LASTLY:

Take ownership of your resolutions as well as credit for any successes when you achieve them. It is a mistake to beat yourself up if you do not achieve immediate results or achieve your goal, Be patient! Turn to God in prayer often for strength and comfort! It has been shown to work in spite of a secular world that often says otherwise. If you are 100% successful, remember that lapses are possible and generally probable. Honestly track yourself and assess your achievement. If you are completely satisfied, you get to try again and again. Remember, few things of value are accomplished in a short time. May God bless your effort!


Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee01/08/04
taking ownership and being patient...that's the real key I think.