“This year I resolve to: exercise more, eat healthier, stop procrastinating, make more time for friends and loved ones, etc. etc.” Most of our New Year’s resolution lists have read like this at some point or another and there’s no shame in it, but after years of the same vague, sweeping declarations, it’s not hard to see why resolutions don’t have much staying power past the first few weeks of January.
Exercise more: will you take Fido out for a walk around the block one day more than usual or are we talking about marathon training? Eat healthier: will you invest time in planning out and writing down a weekly meal plan or will you just swing by the salad bar when the mood strikes you? Making successful resolutions is all about specificity: the more involved you are with the “how’s” of your goal, the easier it is to reach them.
While we’re all for the traditional resolutions that aim to improve your quality of life through healthier living and eating habits, emotional growth seems to be something that’s underappreciated. Developing an exercise regimen and celebrating Meatless Monday require persistence, but they’re very concrete ideas. Good interpersonal relationship habits also require persistence (probably the most persistence), but the results aren’t as easily measured as pounds shed or a decreased carbon footprint.
For 2015, we challenge everyone to look inside themselves. We challenge everyone to be a little bit more selfless and active in showing your appreciation for those you care about. Self-reflection is where it all starts and is worth the time. The entire process holds a magnifying glass to every tiny aspect of who you are and once you’ve started there’s no saying that you’re done with it–it’s a lifetime of asking yourself the hard questions, but if you don’t ask them, no one else will.
Once you’ve laid out all your personal dirty laundry–and whether or not you have immediate solutions for it all, having a great attitude, awareness, and authenticity will give room for your heart to lead you. It’s time to shift your focus to all the relationships in your life, from family and friends to significant others. Nurturing relationships and appreciating others starts with endings, and that’s where the difficult work begins:
- Identify who you care about (really). End the toxic relationships in your life–the people who make you feel like less than a person, who make you feel like you’re competing against them for some nameless prize, who manipulate your friendship for their own gains. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s crucial to understand that some relationships run their course and neither party is at fault–be grateful for the time your roots grew together, even if they now grow apart. It’s painful to end relationships, but sorting out who really matters in your life will give you a stronger emotional foundation and concentrate your efforts moving forward.
- Express your love, loudly and often. Many of us think about our loved ones on a daily basis and that’s wonderful, but it doesn’t really serve a relationship if the person you’re thinking about doesn’t know you’re thinking about them–not everyone has the luxury of mind reading! It might start with a small “thank you” or making a spontaneous phone call to catch up. Whatever it is, reach out and let that important someone know that they’re important–love and validation works wonders!
- “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”. Relationships are work! It might seem crude to put something so layered in such cut and dry terms, but there will be miscommunication and you will make mistakes–make a big enough one and there might be the threat of termination. But with someone who’s truly worth your while, there’s always a hope of a second chance, so be sincere in your apologies, build your bridges together, and continue forward on this weird and wonderful life.
Resolve to take an inward assessment. Stop yo-yo dieting and opt to find forgiveness, let go of bad relationships or whatever it is that you’ve been putting on the back burner. Here’s to a new year, new beginnings, and the pursuit of making more mistakes in order to move forward.
“… So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” Neil Gaiman