Happy New Year! Everyone in the past week has been running around figuring out what sort of resolutions they are promising for the new year. Unfortunately, by the end of February, most resolutions will fail or people will give up hope. There is usually only 3 percent who finish out the year with a proper resolution. Most people donít really know why their resolutions fail or even how the idea of resolutions got started.

The earliest recorded New Yearís celebrations date back around 4,000 years ago to the ancient Babylonians. They held a huge religious celebration during the vernal equinox. They would give honor to the sky god who had a victory over a sea goddess. Usually a king would be crowned, and they would feast for 11 days.

As the world took the Julian calendar, we began taking the New Yearís celebrations to heart. In Spain, they will eat 12 grapes, which are the hopes for the future months ahead. Other parts of the worlds eat legumes in their meals, which show hope for financial success. Other traditional feasts would include ring-shaped cakes and pastries, showing that the year has come full circle and the future will be bright.

The Babylonians were the first people who made promises to favor the gods and start their year well. If they owed money, they would pay their debts. It they had borrowed things, they would give them back. Of course, in New York City there is a ball which has been dropped almost every year since 1907. Other areas have made their own rituals, which include dropping pickles in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, to possums in Tallapoosa, Georgia, and of course in Idaho ó a giant potato.

The big question now is, ďHow can we keep our resolutions without giving up?Ē There is a company called Because I Said I Would. This was created by Alex Sheen who is paying homage to his father. His father was one man who was a man of his word. He was such a good role model to Alex. Now Alex is sharing his fatherís promise to the world. I highly recommend looking at the TED Talks Alex Sheen has participated in. His website, becauseisaidiwould.com, is a great place to learn about his mission.

In my classroom, we have a Because I Said I Would wall. Each of my students has taken a card and written a promise that they want to accomplish over the rest of the school year. If they complete their promise, they are allowed to take it down from the wall. This has been a boon in my classroom because it encourages the students to keep their words to themselves and their friends. I want to keep adding to my walls to help my students see how many people really want to be people of their words.

There was a study done by Harvard that showed that people who made promises to themselves (or goals) who didnít write them down had an 85 percent chance of that goal never being accomplished. When it is written down but not looked at constantly, there is 60 percent chance of that goal being accomplished. What Harvard has shown that if a goal or promise is written down and viewed at least once a week there is a 98 percent chance that the goal will be accomplished and completely done.

It takes 21 days to create a habit and longer to break a bad one. I highly recommend taking a good look at what goals you would like to accomplish and write them down. If anything, write down your promises on a promise card from Because I Said I Would.

Good luck in this auspicious 2016!

Emily Thornton is an English Teacher at Pocatello High School and is working on her Masters Degree at Idaho State University.