January 06, 2012 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"Outsourcing Our Resolutions"By now we all may be a little over-saturated with articles and stories about New Year's resolutions. At the risk of adding to that over-saturation I want to recommend one novel approach to New Year's resolutions that I read about for the first time recently.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal referred to this new approach to New Year's resolutions as “outsourcing your resolutions.” The idea is that instead of making resolutions for yourself, you ask someone close to you what resolutions they would like to see you make. The “outsourcing” part of this novel approach to resolutions is that we are getting honest feedback from others as to what changes we could make that would both benefit ourselves and most likely our relationship with that person.
I see great reward and great risk in approaching New Year's resolutions in this way. The reward is that people that are close to us can sometimes see better where our lives are out of balance than we can ourselves. The reward is that whenever our own emotional, spiritual or physical wellness is out of balance, the people closest to us will often recognize it before we do. Asking them what resolutions they might suggest for us would be a good way of benefiting from their honest feedback. We also will find that when we ask others to help set our resolutions that we will get feedback as to what we can do to help strengthen our relationship with that person.
The risk in doing this is if the conversation would turn into a gripe session where one or both people just air the criticisms of each other without it leading to positive resolutions for change and growth. So I guess we need to be careful who we ask, and how we ask them! It's probably not a good idea to try this with someone with whom you are currently experiencing a great deal of conflict.
Personal resolutions like eating better, spending some more time at the gym, or getting our desk cleared off are of course great in and of themselves. If we try this new approach of outsourcing our resolutions, we will probably find that we get very different kinds of ideas for resolutions. We might hear any of the following: “I would like us to spend more time together,” or “I would love for us to plan a trip together this year,” or “It would mean a lot to me if you could support me more in my desire to make a change in my life (whatever that change might be),” or “I find that you are sometimes very critical of yourself and of me sometimes, and I would really like for you to be more aware of that.”
There is one other great benefit to inviting others to help us set our resolutions. By inviting others to be part of the process we are creating a built-in accountability and support system that will maximize our chances for succeeding at our resolutions--and that is always a good thing.
We wish you all the best in the new year and wish you great success in your resolutions, no matter how you choose to set them.
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