Put in the work toward new year change now.
We’re a few weeks away from New Years resolutions, but if you really want to make a positive change, the personal work should start now.
In place of resolutions, Studio 5 Marriage & Family Contributor Dr. Liz Hale suggests we review and reflect instead. She has four questions to help pinpoint those areas in our life where growth might be needed.
4 Questions to Ask Yourself Now for New Year Change
Fast approaching is not only Christmas and Hanukkah but a brand-new year. As 2023 approaches, are you a resolution maker or resolution breaker? For many of us those two terms go hand in hand. Our next guest suggests making reviewing and reflecting, not resolutions, the focus as we ring in the new year.
Where could I use a fresh start?
Don’t you love the idea of a fresh start; a do-over? A new beginning? The good news is we don’t need to wait until January 1st to make a positive change. The ending of one year and the beginning of another offers a natural opportunity to take some time to consider the bigger picture of your life.
So when can you make a fresh start? At the beginning of a new week; a new day; a new hour; a new moment. Right now, as a matter of fact. I can right a wrong; forgive an old hurt; do more; give more; love more.
I’m impressed that the writer of this film scripted, “stop worrying about ‘what if’ and start embracing ‘what will be.’”
I must say, as a new year rings in, I have a twinge in my heart as I wonder/worry what the new year will bring. It is not too early to start embracing now what will be in 2023. I love the advice the mother of Joseph B. Wirthlin gave him as a teenager after his football team lost a tremendously tough game: “Come what may and love it!” She likely meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and the bells don’t ring. Yet despite life’s difficulties, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from them, becoming stronger, wiser and happier as a result. No one is shielded from grief or sadness. Everyone gets a chance to drink deeply from the cup of disappointment, sorrow and loss.
As a resolutionist, making resolutions for the sake of making resolutions, it is easy to just keep making the same goals on opening day of each and every new year. How many times have I set a goal to get more fit, lose weight, and excel professionally in addition to other common goals which are to save money, live within a budget, and enhance my relationship? Often!
In one recent survey, this is rather encouraging, 21% of respondents said their main resolution for 2023 is to spend less time on social media. As a reflectionist reviewing my use of social media, which is primarily my phone, (the telephone was the original social media phenomenon) I am seeing glimpses of how technology interferes in my marriage. When Ben looks over at me, this is what he often sees: me looking down and texting or emailing. He often says to me, “Who are you texting?” (Which I believe is his way of asking, “is this person really so important that you need to be on your phone in the middle of our watching a football game or running an errand?”)
As a new year approaches, I am reevaluating and revising taking late-night calls and correspondence. I am going to rework how I work, answering clients during a window within the workday, making room only for rare exceptions.
What is my relationship regret?
Regrets are powerful because they teach us what we most value. Looking backward moves us forward. As you consider new relationship resolutions, reexamine relationship regrets. Individually and as a couple, what were your relationship regrets for 2022?
There may be small regrets like letting go of a consistent date night or bigger regrets such a getting into unwanted financial debt, disconnecting from your families, or making a poor personal decision that left your partner betrayed and devastated.
Going back to resolutions, we make them, but we do not necessarily keep them. However, there are some decisions or resolutions that we can prove to be steadfast in. Dare I even say we could be nearly perfect in them, such as, never threatening divorce out of frustration. Or maintaining financial fidelity such as using the joint credit card for home expenses and transparency. (This one is for me because our American Express always notifies Ben’s phone every time I use it for fraud protection…..or at least that’s what he tells me!! I cringe every time I use it.) Or keeping each other updated on work life and relationships so there are never any secret connections. We could be perfect in that resolution, as well.
How could I experience more fun and adventure?
This made the list because it is always the first trait to go in most marriages, according to Dr. john Gottman. It is a #1 complaint of most couples; “we have stopped having fun together.” According to a study conducted by the Center for Marital and Family Studies, the correlation between fun and marital happiness is high and significant. The more you invest in fun and friendship, the happier your relationship becomes over time. (I believe the same holds true for every relationship, even relationships with our children and grandchildren, as well. Make it a point to laugh more together in 2023!)
Fun is an attitude. We can be playful anytime! We can be silly and laugh together while we’re doing the dishes, running errands, or just hanging out. It is not necessarily something we have to schedule time for.
That said, couples should also plan dates that are fun and adventurous, as well…..without the kiddos. Often couples don’t find the same things exciting or playful – that’s to be expected. The goal is to understand what drives you both – what you each enjoy and find exhilarating – compromise and do some of those things together.
What do I revere?
Some individuals and families will never forget 2022. It will be the year of a loved one’s terminal diagnosis, or perhaps even our own. It may be the year we lost a loved one; even the tragic and sudden death of a child or a partner. Years/dates mark a window of significant time and space. And these markers deserve respect, reflection, and recognition. Some may believe they will never be the same due to a significant event that happened in 2022.And, that is true. None of us are completely the same as 2022 first found us. Hopefully, we are stronger than we thought, braver than we imagined, and more resilient than we ever thought possible.
Dr. Liz Hale is the Studio 5 Family and Marriage Contributor. She is passionate about helping relationships survive and thrive! For the past 25-years Dr. Liz has been passionate about her professional training and emphasis in marriage and family therapy, primarily working with couples and families within her private practices both in Seattle and downtown Salt Lake City. As a Certified Gottman Therapist she thrives on helping clients learn new, effective ways of being in their relationships.