A Novel Approach to Setting New Year's Resolutions

A few years ago I received a great deal of positive feedback about a column I wrote regarding a novel approach to setting New Year's resolutions. Based on the feedback, I thought it would be helpful to share some of those ideas in an updated format, in case you are looking for help in setting some resolutions for 2017. If you want to try a different approach to setting a New Year's resolutions this year, try outsourcing them. Outsourcing your resolutions means that instead of making resolutions that you decide on by yourself, you ask someone close to you what resolutions they would like to see you make, and then follow their lead. That someone could be a child, a spouse, a friend, a parent, a colleague or anyone who knows you well. One of the interesting parts of this novel approach to resolutions is that in the process we get honest feedback from others. We learn what changes we could make that would both benefit ourselves and, most likely, our relationship with that person.

I see the potential for 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 than we can where our lives may need a slight change. When our own emotional, spiritual, or physical wellness is out of balance, the people closest to us will sometimes recognize it before we do. Asking them what resolutions they might suggest for us would be a good way of honoring their honest feedback. Also when we ask others to assist us with creating our resolutions it helps strengthen our relationship with that person.

The risk in doing this is that the conversation could turn into a gripe session, where one or both people merely air their criticisms of each other, missing the opportunity to create positive resolutions which could lead to positive change and growth. So we need to be thoughtful about who we ask, and how we ask them.

Personal resolutions like eating better, spending more time at the gym, or getting our desks cleared off are, of course, great in and of themselves.  If we try this new approach of outsourcing our resolutions though, we will probably find that we get ideas for resolutions that are more relational. We might hear any of the following, "You could resolve to spend more time with the family," or "You could resolve to go on a trip  with me this year," or "You could support me more in my desire to change jobs," or "I find that you are sometimes very critical of yourself and of me, and I would really like for you to work on softening that criticism."

There is one other great benefit to inviting others to help us set our resolutions. By inviting them to be a part of the process we are creating a built-in accountability and support system, one that will maximize our chances for succeeding at our resolutions--and that is always a good thing.

We at Living Compass all wish you all the best for 2017 and wish you great success in keeping your resolutions, no matter how you choose to set them.