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In the past have you made New Year resolutions that fall apart after a few weeks or months? Studies show that over 80% of people fail to keep up wither resolutions by mid-February. This sad state of affairs often leaves people feeling disappointed in themselves which can result in negative self-talk, lowered self-esteem, etc. That’s where I come in.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been paying attention to news reports and articles about the topic of New Year resolutions. I will share some of these points that I like because they are more positive and doable, as well as some of my own.

New Year Resolutions are Usually Too Large and Too Vague.

Losing twenty pounds is simply a wish if you have no action plan. So, break things down into more manageable, perhaps monthly goals. In addition, think about action – what will you be able to change that you can manage.

In summary, make your goals SMART, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, and TIME-BASED.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I like some articles from ElephantJournal.com. Why not check out 52 Fun Things: Try a New One Each Week of the Year! Most are easy and inexpensive. A number of them will help with fitness goals. Others will help with friendship and connection.

Looking for Love

The following article for couples comes from Dr. John Gottman. At gottman.com you can sign up for brief daily emails to assist you in having better communication and a more satisfying relationship.

According to data shared by market research company Statista, 15% of people reported that their 2018 New Year Resolution was to “find love.” Other popular New Year Resolutions included saving money, losing weight, and eating healthier.

One goal notably absent from this list? “Improve my relationship with my spouse/significant other.” It’s an interesting oversight, given that research suggests being in a securely attached relationship is associated with better emotional, mental, and physical health.

In other words, surely it’s not enough to merely “find” love. There also needs to be an emphasis on enhancing the health of the primary love relationship once it’s discovered.

Unfortunately, New Year Resolutions are almost synonymous with poor follow through—about 80% of resolutions fail by the time mid-February comes along.

For couples, setting goals to improve their relationship may not be the first thing that comes to mind at the turn of the calendar year. But being intentional about improving communication, trust, and satisfaction can yield significant positive change. This is true for couples in both healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Why Relationship Resolutions Might Fail

The challenge, then, is to understand why relationship-related New Year Resolutions (and goals in general) so often fail.

Consider these common reasons.

Goals are not in line with individual values. If the goal doesn’t enhance each person’s sense of self and authenticity, then it won’t enhance the relationship, either.

Goals are too big. It’s easy to give up on goals if they’re large and intimidating. By chunking them down into small actionable steps, it’s easier to stay consistent with them.

Goals are not measurable. It’s fine to say, “We want to communicate better.” But if the goal is left there, how will the couple truly know whether and when it’s been achieved? Goals need to be specific and created in a way so it can be intuitively measured or identified.

•Goals only focus on the short-term. Couples should regularly evaluate their six-month, one year, five-year, and 10+-year visions—as a couple and individuals. This helps bridge the gap between short-term and long-term success.

What Might Help Relationship Resolutions Succeed

The following suggestions can be used to jumpstart your goal-setting session for the new year. These goals reflect specific and measurable actions which can truly enhance communication, trust, and overall relationship satisfaction.

Stay screen-free during meals.

This means no phone, no social media, and no television, whether eating at home or while dining out. Why is this so important? Research shows that “phubbing,” which is “the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention,” leads to lower levels of relationship satisfaction. Be present.

Schedule a weekly date.

It’s easy to let a busy schedule take over your life. Couples who make time for quality time with each other create wonderful opportunities to bond. Plan for major holidays (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s/Father’s Day, etc.) as well as new and novel activities (trips to a museum, new restaurants, sporting events, day hikes, etc.).

Plan a vacation.

Research shows that planning a vacation brings as much joy (if not more) than the actual vacation itself. And preparing for a trip requires cooperation, saving, and creativity.

Volunteer together.

Working together to serve others is a powerful bonding exercise—and sets a good example for children, as well.

Read books together.

These can be books specific to relationship-building (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman is a fantastic choice.) or any other genre that both people will enjoy.

For a relationship to thrive, partners need to be committed to strengthening the shared bond. To this end, setting relationship-based goals can be extremely effective.

In addition to setting goals together, couples should employ strategies to help hold each other accountable. Examples include weekly scheduled check-ins, scheduling events directly on calendars, or even fun little incentives, such as a meal out or gifts to each other.

Not only will this foster a loving and meaningful relationship, but it will also enhance the well-being of both people involved.

My New Year Resolutions

If you make goals that are positive and enjoyable you will likely have greater success. Some of my New Year resolutions are going to be more trips to the beach to walk, connecting more often with friends on the phone, having friends over for dinner more often, more days out exploring, getting back to playing tennis, trying out dragon boating. From this list, you can see that my focus is on health—physical and emotional.

Sending my good wishes for 2019.

If you would like to share your ideas you can text me at (941) 306 1235 or post a message on https://www.facebook.com/counselingassociatesofsarasota/