Many people are welcoming 2011 with hope and optimism by taking on New Year’s resolutions to improve the quality of their lives. Our society has put a lot of emphasis on New Year’s — new beginnings and starts, makeovers, new relationships, new cars, habits, weight loss, optimism, achievement and other initiatives for self-improvement. Between 40 and 45 percent of all Americans set New Year’s resolutions, but statistically only 8 percent succeed. Maybe that’s because people overlook the best resolutions, which focus on improving the quality of our existing relationships.
How about you? Do you know where to start?
The older I get, the more I realize the most meaningful things I do each day are connected to building stronger relationships. Ask yourself, “Which relationship in my life needs the most improvement?” Then ask the most important follow up question, “What can I do to make things better?”
When we look around, we see rocky roads leading to some of our personal relationships, whether they’re with our children, spouses, family members, friends, co-workers or our faith.
For example, a frustrated mom may feel that the only conversation she has with her teenage daughter is tense and impersonal — usually about homework, grades, personal habits, her friends, clothing choices and curfews. She feels separated and can’t answer the constant, nagging question: “How can I truly connect with my daughter?” The mom decides to take the initiative by making self-motivated changes and inviting her daughter to weekly, one-on-one lunches, latte dates or small shopping trips and trying to talk with her daughter about non-confrontational topics. She makes a concrete resolution using a powerful motivation: love!
Keeping the ongoing commitment will allow each of them to really listen to each other, re-establish their relationship and transform it wisely.
Also, some parents find it difficult to parent a child whose temperament is very different from their own. Driven, outgoing, fast-thinking parents may find themselves exasperated and critical with an indecisive or timid child. Offering a daily word of encouragement — making an effort each day to notice and verbally affirm the child’s small steps to overcome their fears — can make a huge, positive difference in the child’s life for a long time to come.
Even resolutions aimed at more routine, everyday life issues can mean positive, permanent changes for many people. Relationship-based motivation can help people get personally organized or be on time for social and professional commitments. Take, for example, a wife who is chronically late and organizationally challenged. Her bad habits have been irritating her husband for years. These problems might be settled by firm commitments to establish “reminders,” such as pre-setting smart phone alarms ahead of scheduled events, responsibilities and commitments. Yep, there’s an app for that!
There are also many of us who make resolutions to either re-establish relationships in our faith and, for many, to make personal commitments to give our lives to Christ. Whoever you are and wherever you stand regarding the “greatest relationship of your lifetime,” following the guidelines set forth in Jesus’ word makes all of our relationships with everyone in our lives so much easier.
Many psychologists feel that the only way to change a relationship is to change ourselves. Love the person enough to make the first step and, by doing so, turn a generalized wish into a concrete step. Life is about relationships and building them is one of the most important tasks we can resolve to do each and every year. This year, why not make a resolution rooted in purpose?
How about you? Need someone trained to listen, walk and talk with you regarding you and your relationships with others? A Stephen Minister can make a difference in your life and the lives of those close to you. We work to improve relationships every day. Make a 2011 New Year’s resolution to improve your relationships with those you love, your friends and in your faith. Call 320-7840 or 876-2687 for an appointment with a Stephen Minister assigned to First Baptist Church in Hinesville. Sessions are strictly confidential, gender-sensitive, free and faith-based, but faith is not a requirement. Stephen Ministers are available and will work with your schedule. There are more than 1 million Stephen Ministers worldwide in 150 denominations in more than 12,000 churches reaching out to serve the needs of their communities. Learn more about the Global Stephen Program at stephenminisrty.org.