- Exercise more
- Communicate better in my relationship
- Have better work/family balance
- Be more positive
- Make healthier eating habits
- Spend more time with my kids
- Make more time to do what I want
The list could go on and on…… We’ve all made resolutions to improve some aspect of our lives, and it makes sense to do it at as we move into a new year. Changing the calendar and the move from increasing darkness into increasing light feels like we have a clean slate and this year things will be different. This is great, right? And those goals I listed above are fantastic! If you take a short look around this website you’ll quickly see that these types of goals are things I believe in wholeheartedly.
I have certainly made new year’s resolutions throughout my life – many times! But I don’t anymore……
Why, you ask? What could possibly be the problem with making goals to improve myself? My answer is that there is NOTHING wrong with the idea of it, but I do have problems with how we tend to go about improving ourselves through new year’s resolutions. It is very hard for most of us to recognize ahead of time the type of sustained commitment it takes for meaningful life changes to occur. While resolutions are laudable, they typically leave out the day-to-day details of what it will take to actually carry through with your goals. What happens when you make a mistake? When you feel discouraged? When you fall back into old habits? When unexpected things happen that get in the way of you carrying through with your resolution? How do you deal with these things?
Carrying through with goals is a day by day task that needs to be continually reevaluated, reworked, and readjusted as you and circumstances change. Do you know the difference between people who are good in their field and those who are masters? Though talent is necessary, it is not the most important factor – what really sets people apart is the amount of time they set aside for practice. Master musicians, athletes, businessmen, artists – those who truly excel are not necessarily inherently better at a particular skill than their peers, but they are willing to spend an inordinate more amount of time devoted to working through mistakes and learning from them.
As an example of how this might look in your own life, if your goal is to connect with your wife in a meaningful way at least once per day, and you find that you’ve been in conflict for a few days in a row, your job is to ask yourself WHAT ISN’T WORKING and then try to adjust things to get back on track with your goal. Typically with new year’s resolutions this circumstance would be viewed as a failure and most would likely give up on the resolution for ongoing connection. This is why I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions. Goals or resolutions just CAN’T be a one shot try (or two or even three) and then you’re done. We all make mistakes and things often don’t go how we planned. If we don’t work with the unexpected and the failures it is very difficult to make any meaningful change. You have to pick yourself up (as painful as it can be sometimes), learn from your mistakes, and then keep trying.
Setting goals and maintaining motivation to keep striving toward reaching those goals can be very hard work. It is especially difficult to do so without support. Therapists at the Salt Lake Relationship Center are ideal sources of support for all of your relationship and personal goals. Contact us or click here to schedule an appointment to take steps on changing your life today!