Small Relaunches New Year’s Resolution Tradition
I am old and wise enough not to have made any New Year’s resolutions in quite a few years. Long ago, I made lists each year toward the end of December. While too omuch time has elapsed for me to recall any particular resolutions,I do remember how positive I was that I would fulfill them. I was fresh enough to believe that good intentions sufficed.
Sometime later, having created an endless trail of failed resolutions, I understood that I had once been much too ambitious, and that if I hoped to keep any of my promises to myself, I had to shorten my list. Which I did. I began limiting my list to five items, no more. And indeed, I was able to achieve some follow through—for several weeks or up to several months. But by the time spring arrived, I had let my resolutions drop with little guilt or fanfare. The season promised all sorts of renewal. I had too much to look forward to to let my lapses weigh on me.
Then, around ten or so years ago, I stopped even thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions were magical thinking, I rationalized. They very rarely led to long-term change. I was old and wise enough to strive for personal evolution on an ongoing basis. I didn’t need to make pronouncements and set new rules for myself.
But this year, since I’ve been thinking small, I thought about reconceiving the notion of resolutions, and taking up the banner of change once again. Perhaps if I scaled down the desire for and promise of change, I might develop a different relationship with New Year’s resolutions.
So I decided that I would make one—and only one—resolution for 2020. Not only that, I wouldn’t strive for revolution; I’d aim for a modest shift. A behavior I had a chance of changing. But as I reflected on just what that shift should be, I began to feel overwhelmed. Too many options in too many areas of my life presented themselves, each clamoring for attention.
Just when I was on the point of giving up, I had an idea: Instead of resolving to change my own behavior, Stephen and I could exchange resolutions. We could each think of one behavioral shift the other person could strive for that would create a win-win situation by benefitting both our relationship and ourselves in the coming year.
I immediately loved the idea. It was much easier for me to request a small—and attainable—change from Steve, than from myself And he was enthusiastic about my idea. What relationship wouldn’t benefit from a boost, and this was a perfect way to achieve this boost.
I quickly isolated one shift on Steve’s part that would nourish my well being. And he immediately requested a small shift from me. What a lovely way to launch the new year, both of us pleased by the willingness of our partner, as well as optimistic about the outcome.
One more triumph for small.