The New Year 2007 comes with a promise, but no warranties. At the start of each year many people hope that the new year will bring about new behaviors.

Most people make New Year’s resolutions on Jan. 1, only to find that by Feb. 1 not much had changed.

Eugene Harder, a pastor in Canada, says that according to a survey, the five most popular resolutions are these:

• Lose weight.

• Stop smoking.

• Improve relationships.

• Make more money.

• Take up a new hobby.

Citing findings of the same survey, Harder says, “In answer to the question, ‘If you made one [resolution] last year did you keep it?’ 60 percent replied ‘Yes’ and 40 percent replied ‘No.’ ”

Harder said that probably 70 percent of North Americans will not make resolutions this year. So over two-thirds of the population don’t even try to cash in on the promise of a new year and a new life.

Troy Surratt, 27, is a web developer who lives in Denver and he takes the matter of new year resolutions seriously. He has designed a web site (www.hiaspire.com/newyear/) that lets people register their resolutions on his site. Then, his computer automatically generates an e-mail at regular intervals of time that reminds the member about their resolution and encourages them to keep trying to achieve their goals.

In an interview with New York Times reporter Lisa Napoli, Surratt said that his site provided a form with 15 of the most often stated resolutions. Among them were lose weight, exercise more, save money, quit smoking, advance career, follow my dreams and the most difficult and vague “be a better person in general.”

A comparison of Harder’s reported survey and Surratt’s responses at his web site shows that among those people who make resolutions, many of them are fighting the same battles with weight, smoking, improving relationships and making money. Sometimes it helps to know we are not alone in our struggles, so maybe the custom of making resolutions is useful just for that 1 reason.

Are there any proven ways that will help people in their resolve to add new behaviors to a new year? Surratt believes he has found some keys to aid people in keeping their resolutions. His web site lists several suggestions:

• Friends helping friends to break bad habits.

• Talking about the problem or the effort needed to change will help. Surratt suggests chat rooms and message boards on the internet can be used for this purpose. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous have been successfully using this tactic for years.

• Read success stories. Surratt says, “Read inspirational, funny and helpful stories about people and their struggles with their resolutions.” Again Surratt points to his own web site as a likely source for these accounts, but the library, book stores and magazines are full of success stories.

• Seek out motivation. Surratt says, “Find some ideas that will keep you going all the way.” Truisms and wise sayings abound such as “a journey of a thousand miles begins with 1 step” and “if you don’t first succeed, try, try again.” While these phrases may be timeworn and hackneyed, they contain ideas that can help direct a person to a given goal.

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