New Year’s Resolutions

Ricky Leong, via Flickr

Colin Lowther and Liz Waid look at New Year’s resolutions – promises and plans to change behavior. Are you making resolutions this year?

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Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

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And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

Today’s Spotlight is on New Year’s resolutions. People celebrate the beginning of each year at different times depending on their cultural traditions. But one of the most common times to celebrate the New Year is by the Gregorian calendar. People also call this way of measuring days, months and years the Western or Christian calendar. On this calendar, the first day of the new year is January 1. People call this holiday “New Year’s Day”.

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People love to celebrate New Year’s Day. Some celebrate with parties and music. They may sing traditional songs about old times and good friends. Some people celebrate quietly with family and friends. Other people go to church on New Year’s Day. People may ask each other, and God, for forgiveness for the wrong things that happened the year before. People can leave their mistakes in the old year. Instead, they look to the future. They think about how they can make the new year better, or different, than the year before.

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One common way people try to make a new beginning is by making New Year’s resolutions. A New Year’s resolution is a promise you make to yourself. It usually means a change of behavior or a new goal. For example:

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This year, I promise to eat healthy food.

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This year, I promise to exercise more.

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I promise to give more money to the poor.

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I promise to be kind to my sister.

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I promise to finish school this year.

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People believe that the first New Year’s resolutions were made thousands of years ago by the Babylonians. The most popular New Year’s resolution for the ancient Babylonians was to return borrowed farm equipment! Today, the most popular New Year’s resolutions are usually ways for people to improve themselves. People promise to do things like stop smoking or pay back money that they owe. People also commonly make resolutions about relationships and health.

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On the first day of the New Year people feel great about the changes they hope to make. But what happens after some time has passed? Experts say that most people do not keep their resolutions for very long. The University of Scranton in the United States studied New Year’s resolutions in 2014. They found that one week after New Year’s Day only 75% of people have kept their resolutions. This number drops down to 65% after one month. Less than half of people keep their New Year’s resolutions for more than six months.

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There are many reasons why people often do not keep their resolutions. The main reason is that it is difficult to make changes. But there are a few ways to make it easier to make good changes. Spotlight producers Michio Ozaki, Bruce Gulland and Rena Dam each share a way to make - and keep, resolutions:

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Be realistic and detailed. Many people make a goal that is too big or not clear. Your resolution may be to learn English better. But you may not know how to make that happen! Instead, make a resolution that is smaller and more detailed. For example, “I will listen to a Spotlight English program two times every week.” Or, “I will speak English every day.” Making smaller goals will help you to get better at the exact thing you want to do. It will also make you able to measure your success. And that will be encouraging!

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Get as much support as you can. Ask other people to help you remember your resolutions. When you make a promise to someone else, it is easy to remember. It will also make you want to keep your resolution. Some people make resolutions with someone else. For example, if you wanted to exercise more, you could plan to exercise with a friend. Then you can encourage each other and have fun too. Even if you have no one to help you keep your resolution, there are websites on the internet that offer help. One website sends encouraging information about your resolution, such as information about exercising. The website will even send emails to help you remember your resolution.

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Start one new healthy habit to replace every unhealthy one. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to stop bad habits. These habits may be things like eating unhealthy food, or playing too many video games. It is difficult just to stop a habit. Instead, replace it with something else. For example, instead of eating unhealthy food snacks, plan healthy things to eat. Make a resolution to eat more fruits and vegetables. Or, in the case of video games, replace the habit with something healthier. Make a resolution to get more exercise. At the times you would play a video game, play a sport with your friends instead.

However, sometimes a bad habit is not just a habit. Sometimes a bad habit is really an addiction. Substances like cigarettes or alcohol can cause dependence. A person’s mind or body depends on these substances. For example, when you stop using cigarettes, you may feel sick. You will want the cigarettes very badly. Stopping an addiction is much more difficult than stopping a bad habit. If you are stopping an addiction, look for more help. Visit our website for more ideas.

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It is also good to remember that no one is perfect. Even if we fail one day, we can keep working on our resolutions. The Christian Bible uses the word perseverance to talk about keeping promises. Perseverance means continuing to do something even if it is difficult. To persevere, a person needs to be patient and strong. But we do not have to struggle alone. The Bible also says that God will be with us and help us:

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for good and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

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With this hope, it is easier to have perseverance. People may forget their New Year’s resolutions or want to give up. But everyone can remember these helpful ideas: Make detailed goals and get help from friends. Start new good habits as you stop old bad ones. Remind yourself and others that you are not alone. And with perseverance, good changes can last throughout the whole year.

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The writers of this program were Sara DeKoster and Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘New Year’s Resolutions’.

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Tell us what you think about today’s program. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at And find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Are you making any New Year's resolutions? What is your resolution?


Avatar Spotlight
said on December 29, 2014

This makes me got another idea about confession topic. Some friends told me that why do we confess while we can’t stop doing mistakes in front of God. After confession we just give up our sins several days but we will be continuing do badly as before, nothing changes.

I suddenly think how a man can give up smoking. That’s really difficult. I have experienced guys addicted with cigarette. The first they listened advises from there closed people such as wife, parents, brothers or sister… They had an effort to stop smoking from first day, second day… and until after third day they smoked again… it seems all efforts are useless after many times attempt. Lastly, once day, they won themselves. They gave up smoking with admiring from their closed people around.

Turning back about confession, some one assumed that why do we confess when can’t give up doing sins and keeping mistakes a few days after confession. Wondering a man can give up smoking if he wouldn’t fail many times of try to get the success. This is the same with confession. With unlimited love from the god, why we don’t confess that can connect us to him closer even though we are sinner, not perfect in front of God.

Everything is starting from original idea! Keep it up for plans, my friends!

Avatar Spotlight
said on December 29, 2014

I can’t play this

Avatar Spotlight
said on December 30, 2014

Is there a trouble with the website? I can’t listen the program or download

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 01, 2015

this year i promise to improve English better and to became a english speaker . By writing English on spotlight remind me to do everyday . This year , English is the most important goal . And ,i will set a schedule to learn english in exactly way and discipline. I think we should put a discipline for any goal which we want to success. But you always must do follow it and never give up even its so difficult . I hope in this year , anyone can be success in their goals . Thanks !

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 26, 2015

I’m going to learn English well in new year.I’d like to speak English fluently so that I can find another job better.I’d like to earn more money for better life.It’s my resolution for this new year.I hope I can do that and obtain my plan!

Avatar Spotlight
said on December 29, 2015

Surely, people mostly make many resolutions, promises and plans at the beginning of New Year but unfortunately they are not always able to realize it. I suppose we should try to choose rather the goals that we know of we can reach finally.
Personally, at all events I would like to work more hard learning English and I also want to improve my lifestyle a little to save, keep the health.
I hope I will be successful to reach these my goals!
Thanks very much all Spotlight team for excellent, attractive programs! I wish you just as all listeners a Happy New Year 2016!

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 02, 2016

In new year, I promise I will practice english harder than the year before. I want to be good at listening and speaking. I hope one day I would speak english naturally. I will try my best to do my goal I set by listening and leaving a comment on each spotlight post daily. Hope everyone could gain their goals in new year. Happy New Year 2016 from Vietnam with love!

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on December 30, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Friday 30, December 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Sara Dekoster, Rena Dam, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you for bringing us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!
No, I am not making any New Year’s resolutions. My resolution is to learn English more and more together with SPOTLIGHT.
Also, I want that the New Year be better than old year because 2016 was not a good year for us Brazilian people. So, we had several problems in our country.
Therefore, I wish a happy NEW YEAR for everybody from spotlight and all people in the world. Thanks!

Your regards,
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 02, 2017

I watch this video too late. In new year, I promise to learn English better. I want to speak English fluently. I will try my best to reach my goal.

KatyBlake's avatar
said on January 03, 2017

Happy 2017 from all the Spotlight team

Avatar Spotlight
said on December 28, 2017

As I wrote in my comment several years ago I prefer making fewer resolutions, promises and plans at the beginning of a New Year. I suppose setting the modest goals we are able to achieve actually will bring us much more pleasure, satisfaction in future in contrast to making great resolutions, plans we may not be successful in its realization. Sometimes, good friends or family members can help us remember, keep and put in practice our New Year’s resolutions but we need primarily our own persistency, determination just as patience to realize all resolutions or plans successfuly.
I thank Spotlight team for giving us listeners such amazing, interesting topics and a possibility to learn, improve our English knowledge as well! I wish you a Happy New Year 2018!!

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 01, 2019

I don’t have the custom to make promises in the new year. I don’t know why, but I never made a promise like that. Maybe my military background, with a conservative behavior, could be responsible for.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on January 02, 2019

I celebrated at Church (German Church) at Addis Ababa.
It was a nice time.
Happy New Year.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
said on January 03, 2019

We live and serve in life. We live a beautiful good life and we make life better and more beautiful. We are one. We are servants of one another in life. We have a year for our plans. We have year, month, day and hour for our beautiful good plans. Our beautiful good goals bring our families, our communities and life beautiful good things. We serve in family, community and life. We live and serve in life. We live a beautiful good life and we make life better and more beautiful. We are servants of one another in love. We may be a boss or we may be an employee.