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Make and Break and Celebrate New Year’s Resolutions

Many of us make and break resolutions annually. Even so, there is value in the process.

Each year at this time, individuals, families, organizations and the media take time to look back over all that has happened during the past 12 months. We evaluate, celebrate, grieve, let go and plan for the year to come.

Resolutions are a part of that process. At their best, they can set a road map for the year to come, and shift one’s focus in hopeful and positive directions. But even when resolutions only last a week or two, forming them is beneficial.

Some individuals, families and religious organizations go from week to week, and month to month without taking the time to review what is working and what is not, nor do they take time to set or to adjust goals. If we aren’t doing these things on a regular basis, New Year’s gives us a societal reminder that it’s time to reflect on our lives, and make thoughtful choices in the year ahead.

The Congogram process is kind of like an expanded New Year’s review and resolution process because it leads congregations through a process of individual and group self-reflection and goals setting. It focuses on many years, not just one.

Ideally people keep the resolutions they make, but the process of self-reflection that goes into setting goals is as important as the goals themselves. This reflection involves taking the time to think over life, to review what worked and what didn’t, to explore possible options, and to choose a direction to take. Doing this reflection makes us more self-aware which then lead us to adjust our behavior.

Increase the value of your New Year’s Resolutions through preparation and by continuing self-reflection after the year begins.  Here are some tips on making resolutions beneficial.

  • Do a thorough review process before making any resolutions. What happened this past year? What did you have control over? What did you not have control over? How did you respond in various situations? What worked? What didn’t? How would you like to be different in the coming year? What are some possible approaches you might take to change things?
  • Make your resolutions specific, realistic and measurable. “We are going to communicate better,” is a worthy goal, but it isn’t attainable because it is too nebulous, and there is no way to measure whether or not you are succeeding. Instead try naming communication patterns you wish to start using, those you wish to use more often, and those you wish to eliminate. That’s specific. Then, identify how you will know if communication has improved. That’s measurable.
  • Break the main goal down into manageable sub-goals. For example write down what you expect to achieve each week or month. With some resolutions a daily goal might help . If the goal involves multiple people write down what you can do personally to contribute to this goal, and how you will know when you are succeeding.
  • Track your successes with the sub-goals. Write down when you succeed and congratulate yourself.
  •  If you find yourself breaking your new resolutions, analyze what is going wrong. If the goal involves a group, set aside a time to reflect together. After the group discussion, sit down with yourself and answer these questions. What is getting in your way? Are you remembering? Are you still committed? Are there other factors that make this goal difficult that you need to work on? Make a commitment regarding some of these other factors.
  • Reevaluate the goal. Sometimes it’s hard to know what will work until you get into the project or the process. If you have not been successful, or have only been moderately successful, you might benefit from making some modifications to the goal. Consider modifying: strategies to achieve this goal; the time frame you have set for accomplishing this goal; or the system you are using to measure the goal.

A broken resolution is a valuable learning opportunity when you are willing to reflect on it, and when you are willing to set new resolutions as a result of your reflection. Let New Year’s start the process of positive change in your life or the life of your family or congregation. Celebrate your successes and keep working with your temporary failures.

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