Relationships and New Years Resolutions

During the holiday season, and as we get ready for the New Year, people are preparing to make resolutions for the New Year. Many of those people are also evaluating why their resolutions didn’t work from last year! Since this is a great time to create some resolutions that affect you and your partner, let’s make ones that will truly work!  The simple problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they typically consist of things we do not want to do. No matter what the goal is and the motivation to get to the goal, if we just don’t want to do what needs to be done to get to the goal, then nothing happens.

For instance, I am overweight. Always have been, probably always will be. Some of it is genetics.  Some of it is that I don’t eat well. And I don’t like to exercise! So what are the odds that I’ll be successful with a resolution that says “I want to lose 30 pounds”?

Not very good! Because I don’t want to give up potato chips, don’t want to do the treadmill and weight machine, and who cares that I’m overweight anyway?!

You have probably seen half of the people you know go through this.This works the same way when doing relationship resolutions. How many of the following resolutions have a chance of succeeding?

“I’m going to clean out the basement”

“I’m going to help more with the house work”

“I’m going to bring my girlfriend flowers more often”

I give them all a 10% chance of working.

The key to understanding this is to recognize that if we wanted to do these things, we would probably be doing them already! But, we don’t so we haven’t!

To create an effective New Year’s resolution, state how you wish to be, not what you will do.  And follow that up with the reward for “being” that way. This kind of resolution is about changing our internal state, not about doing something. The doing will come naturally.

Once we’ve created our resolution, we need some time to embed it into our brains. The easiest way to do this is through repetition. We can remember anything if it is repeated to us enough times. 

Let’s put this into practice now!

We’ll start with the easy one...my weight. Instead of the old resolution statement “I’m going to lose 30 pounds” we’ll use the following one:

“I will be healthier and in better physical condition because being healthier makes me feel good and I have more energy”

Now that we’ve planted that seed of change (and notice that we didn’t say anything about how we will do this), every morning when I wake up, I’ll say to myself my resolution followed by:

“Today I will look for ways to do things that improve my physical health”

The interesting thing is that once we’ve set this expectation, our system will look for opportunities to do this. Maybe I’ll suddenly feel like having a salad instead of fries at lunch.  Maybe I’ll take a longer way home to get an extra 15 minutes in walking.

When we are motivated by a state of being, we will find ways to attain that.

Let’s work with our relationship resolutions.

“I’m going to clean out the basement” becomes:

“I will be more organized because decluttering my mind and my life feels better and frees up my energy to do other things that I enjoy

”Every morning I may say to myself:

“Today I will look for ways to reduce the clutter and disorganization around me”

“I’m going to help more with the house work” becomes:

“I will respect more the efforts of all, especially my partner, to keep our home a nice place in which to live because it feels good to have such a great space where I can relax

”Every morning I may say to myself:

“Today I will look for ways to help keep this house a wonderful place to come home to”

“I’m going to bring my girlfriend flowers more often” becomes:

“I will be more in tune with what pleases my girlfriend and what gives her joy”

Every morning I may say to myself:

“Today I will notice what makes my girlfriend happy and what I can do to make her feel that way more often”

How often do I say these phrases to myself? It depends on the individual. Some people say 7-9 days. Some psychologists say it takes 21 days for a habit to form.

Just keep doing this until you feel you don’t have to. Your system will just continue doing what you have commanded without your prompting.

Another thing that will happen is that the people around you, your partner, spouse or lover will suddenly say to you “There’s something different about you!”

And that’s when you’ll truly know that your News Years resolution is working!

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