A New Year: Keeping Our Word
Here we are at the start of another year. So what were the most popular things that Americans resolved to do differently this year? The ten most popular goals for 2020 were:
1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)
2. Exercise more (65 percent)
3. Lose weight (54 percent)
4. Save more and spend less (32 percent)
5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent)
6. Quit smoking (21 percent)
7. Read more (17 percent)
8. Find another job (16 percent)
9. Drink less alcohol (15 percent)
10. Spend more time with family and friends (13 percent).
All of these are worthy objectives. Yet despite their wholesomeness and the good intentions of those who made them, few will actually follow through on these resolves:
“Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.”
So, 1 in 12 accomplish their personal improvement goal. How long do the others hang on before abandoning their resolve? Researchers wondered about that and were “able to pinpoint the date when most people report failing their resolution.”
What was that date?
Wait for it…
Ouch. It’s not like they give up on their New Year’s Resolution after months of hard work. To the contrary, after less than two weeks most people have already forsaken their well-intentioned objective of self-improvement for the year.
Perhaps a better goal for all of us this year would be to dedicate ourselves to keeping our pledges, whatever they may be. The Scriptures certainly admonish us to do this (see passages such as Ecclesiastes 5:4-5), for keeping a promise is the essence of personal integrity.
An excellent definition of integrity was given by Founding Father Benjamin Rush (a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a founder of America’s first Bible society), who stated:
I think I have observed that integrity in the conduct of both the living and the dead takes a stronger hold of the human heart than any other virtue….By integrity, I mean…a strict coincidence between thoughts, words, and actions.
In Rush’s view, integrity—that is, keeping one’s word—is the strongest of all personal virtues.
Thomas Jefferson agreed. When asked to give advice to young men, he pointed them to Psalms 15, which says:
O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and…
swears to his own hurt and does not change. (Psalm 15:1-4 NASB)
So in 2020, let’s dedicate ourselves to keeping our word, not just with New Year’s Resolutions but especially with the everyday promises we make to our friends, family, or anyone else. Paying attention to better keeping our word, even in the small things, should become a singular goal for each of us.
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 Economy, P. (2019, January 1). 10 Top New Year's resolutions for success and happiness in 2019: Researchers say about 60 percent of us make New Year's resolutions but only about 8 percent are successful in achieving them. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html
 Khalil, S. (2018, December 21). New Year’s resolutions last exactly this long. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2018/12/21/new-years-resolutions-last-exactly-this-long/
 Benjamin Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, L.H. Butterfield, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. II, p. 1103, letter to John Adams, September 4, 1811.
 Henry S. Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. III, 672, Appendix No. XXXVI, Thomas Jefferson Randolph to Henry S. Randall; see also Jefferson’s letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith on February 21, 1825.