We all do it, assess where we are each year and vow to improve in the coming one. Many of us are probably having the conversation with ourselves right now. We might even be thinking about how to improve our relationships, and maybe we are thinking of how we can be a better partner to our mate. Whatever you may be considering, let’s look at the changes differently this year. Why not make 2011 your breakout year, and your best yet?
I’m talking about making meaningful changes. I want to tell you about an old friend. His name is Bill Clark and he made significant changes for himself yearly, and he started it off with a ritual. Bill took stock of his life every New Years day. He would begin the year with an early morning run. It would always be a number of miles somewhere around ten, more than he usually ran during the year. He would tell me about doing this before the day arrived, as if to make sure he would really do it. And he always did.
Now when I think about making changes, or as a couples counselor helping other people make changes, I am reminded of Bill and I’m glad. He reminds me to value a tradition, doing something with vigor because it’s important. Beginning again, no matter how big or small deserves to be celebrated. We all deserve to be celebrated. That’s what I get from Bill’s devotion to new beginnings. He would challenge himself with a physical act, but what he was giving himself was the gift of new beginnings.
For Bill, accomplishing a big endeavor was just what he needed. This was his wakeup call and a reminder to him that he had the ability to change his life. He did it with a big reminder. The rest of us can do it by just telling ourselves we want to.
You may not be a runner, and even though I put in a few miles ever week there is no way I will be running ten miles, but I may do something else. I may decide to make a statement in another way. I might make a vow to myself, and I may tell others. It could go something like this, “I plan to have a year of being more loving to_______.” There’s something significant about saying something like this to ourselves. There is also value is saying it to others.
Maybe your relationships aren’t as great as you would like them to be. Maybe you dream of being in a more nurturing relationship with your spouse. Why not take it upon yourself and do something different for 2011. You have the power to change you. You have the ability to decide you want to treat your partner differently. You can create the environment you wish to live in. Yes, you.
Maybe your partner loves it when you make them coffee in the morning, or wash the dishes. Tell yourself this is the year I will pick something that pleases her and do it for her. Do this because it will make your partner feel good. Do this and I promise you, you will feel good too.
New Years resolutions can be difficult. Some of us have tried for years to; lose weight, get into shape, stay in touch with friends, travel, save money etc. There are lots of ways we think we can do better. I like to think of this time of year as a fresh start. Your new beginning and you can make it anything you want. It’s like we all get to begin again, if we want to. And who doesn’t want a clean slate?
If you are in a relationship with complex issues that keep you from feeling connected, just pick one thing that you can do to make something between you easier. Don’t try and fix the whole lot, that’s too much work and might require the assistance of a counselor. But you can decide not to call her that name, the one she hates, the one that makes her mad. You can decide not to use it and try to keep from using it for all of 2011. Make it a goal. Maybe it could be something like making his favorite food, on a regular basis, not because he deserves it or was nice, but because you decide this will be something you can do. He will love you in the instant you do this. You will feel good. Resign yourself to do this without prompting because it is your change for 2011.
You know your particulars in your relationship better than anyone. Look at what you can do to make your partner happy. Find one thing. Decide it will be your one thing for 2011. Begin again, fresh start, new life; it’s all there for us. Just step into it.
© Copyright 2010 by Linda Nusbaum, MA, MFT, therapist in Long Beach, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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