According to USA.gov, the most popular New Year’s resolutions include: losing weight, volunteering time, quitting smoking, furthering one’s education, getting a better job, saving money, getting fitter, eating more healthy food, managing stress, managing debt, taking a trip, recycling, becoming more environmentally friendly, and reducing alcohol intake. Time magazine observes that many of these popular resolutions are also ones most commonly broken.
Why not make resolutions about relationships?
Research published in the University of Scranton’s “Journal of Clinical Psychology” turned up some interesting figures on New Year’s resolutions. Almost half of the people in the U.S. make resolutions, but less than 10 percent are generally successful and able to fulfill the resolutions they have made.
I am sure we have all made New Year’s resolutions only to find them dropping away for many different reasons.
But it is interesting to look at the typical New Year’s resolutions above and note none are truly about relationships. Those that specify spending more time with family, children or friends seem to be missing from the equation. Instead, getting healthier themes seem to dominate.
What’s the value of good health without relationships?
I value the goal of being healthy, but the hard realities that shake our world focus on homes and communities with difficult (or maybe even destructive) relationships. It seems that is where change is really needed if our lives are to improve.
Those of us who work with children and teenagers hear them ask for more relational time with their parents or family.
Maybe it is assumed that making resolutions means doing family things, but from my observations, in our society that seems to be less and less a priority. We all get busy with jobs, school activities, taking care of the house, going to events, etc.
As you contemplate what resolutions to make in 2015, I urge you to think seriously about building more relational time with your family.
What might relational time look like? Possibilities for meaningful moments with those you love include:
- planning a trip together
- taking time for special occasions like birthdays
- putting together a monthly breakfast or lunch date with your kids
- finding fun and enriching activities
- going to meaningful events
- even exercising together
Activities do not have to be expensive, particularly creative or require a lot of planning. (Sometimes spontaneity is not only fun but heartfelt.) They just need to simply make the statement that “you are so important to me that I am willing to give you priority in my schedule in order to make sure we have a strong and healthy relationship!”
A quick quiz
Take a moment to consider, “who is it in your life that has made the statement above to you and has been consistent through the many stages, phases and events in your life?” Your answer will tell you who in your life are your true friends and most consistent family members.
As valuable as all the other resolutions are, I can not imagine a more beneficial and encouraging one than to think of the person you value the most. Make a resolution to let that person know you will be there for them as a friend, family member or co-worker. Not only is it an emotionally and relationally healthy decision, but it will have a significant impact to someone you genuinely care about.
Everyone needs that kind of caregiving from someone!
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network