Love, Family

7 Relationship Goals To Set As Your New Year's Resolutions For 2019

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How To Use Your 2019 New Year's Resolutions To Set Healthy Relationship Goals

Are you someone who often makes and then breaks your New Year's resolutions, sometimes just days into the new year?

Studies suggest that 80 percent of resolutions are broken by the second week of February each year. But if you bother making them, wouldn't it be great to see them through?

Coming up with resolutions you're likely to keep throughout 2019 may seem daunting, but if you and the person you love put your heads together and work at it as a team, you'll find that there are plenty of ideas worth committing to and achieving.

After all, this time of year is the ideal moment to set some simple relationship goals as a couple.

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In his book Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts Becoming the Person You Want to Be, American leadership coach and author Marshall Goldsmith says the following:

“We are superior planners and inferior doers. We make plans, set goals and fail to achieve them. If we hope to achieve the plans we make, we need structure. We do not get better without structure.”

Goldsmith is known as one of the world’s most effective executive coaches. He has done coaching and goal setting with fortune 500 business leaders like Alan Mulally, former president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, Jim Yong Kim, twelfth and current President of the World Bank, and Aicha Evans, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel.

Goldsmith suggests asking yourself active questions on a daily basis.

They can start with: “Did I try my best today to (fill in the blank)?"

When you set an intention to do your best every day, you make progress.

Within the exercise you should both track your answers and decide who it is that will hold you accountable.

According to Goldsmith, this simple exercise always works when practiced daily. The problem is that few people continue without assigning accountability.

If you're involved in a supportive, healthy relationship or marriage, you may want to ask the person you love to be your accountability partner. Emotional honesty strengthens bonds in loving relationships. If you can take the risk of being vulnerable and doing this exercise on a daily basis with your partner, it will help you achieve your goals as individuals while drawing you closer together as a couple.

Goldsmith emphasizes the fact that this exercise only works when you state your intention on a daily basis. What's most important here is the sincerity of your intention, rather than the specific outcome. It may take weeks or months to get to a desired outcome, and both you and your partner should be careful not to judge each other harshly if an outcome is never achieved.

Judgment causes shame, which damages self-esteem and our ability to make progress.

If you feel judged by your partner, it will harm rather than help your relationship. The accountability partner’s job is simply to listen and be supportive of the partner undertaking this exercise.

With the above ground rules in place, here are the 7 best relationship goals to set as your New Year's resolutions for 2019.

1. Address addictions

Rather than resolving to lose 25 pounds, stop smoking, or stop drinking or drugs, why not make an intention to do your best every day? Your best may be trying to stop eating excessive carbs. Your best may be attending a recovery group.

Addictions eventually eat away at everything you love the most. Your ability to achieve goals and to be open and loving is compromised by your addictions.

Anyone who has been through recovery will tell you that the daily intention to stop is the key to success. “Keep coming back” is a saying in AA that defines this intention.

There are all kinds of organizations out there that will help, and they are all free! They simply require your intention and best effort.

2. Reimagine your T.V. and social media consumption

A little mindless T.V. can help you unwind. I use cooking shows and light comedy for this purpose. But many people are hooked by dark, violent, and explicit series which can depress mood and waste valuable time.

There is a downside and upside to the digital age we live in. On the downside, social media can downgrade your ability to be a loving, compassionate, inspired person.

But the inverse is also true. There's more media available than ever to help you feel better about yourself, achieve your goals, and help you be a more loving and compassionate person.

Try searching for podcasts on leadership, emotional intelligence and healthy relationships. Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations is one of my favorites.

You can also watch TED Talks. There are so many inspiring, cutting-edge speakers who will help you expand your horizons,

There are thousands of sermons online that can be a source of inspiration for many of you.

And read books! I love kindle books. You don't even need a Kindle reader. You can download the Kindle app to read them on your smart phone.

If you prefer to listen rather than read, you can download audio books onto your phone from the Audible store,or you can also download thousands of audio books for free through your local library.

So there is really no excuse not to consume amazingly helpful media. You need to make the choice or perhaps the resolution. Will this be one of your New Year's resolutions?

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3. Practice mindfulness, loving kindness and gratitude meditations

A New Year's resolution, this is a must. There are lots of different ways to practice meditation. One of the most talked about methods these days is mindfulness meditation. In his book Mindsight, Dr. Dan Siegel, does a great job describing how mindful meditation has a positive impact on the brain and body.

The basic practice has to do with learning how to let go of thoughts and allow yourself to simply feel what you are feeling without judgment. This breaks habitual thought patterns that are often critical of self and other. It also allows emotions to surface that we don't normally feel because cluttered thinking keeps them buried in the unconscious.

If you are new to mindfulness meditation, the Headspace app can guide through the process. It's a free app available for iOS and android devices.

An expert on self-compassion, author and researcher Dr. Kristin Neff gives mindfulness meditation a focus in what she calls the practice of loving kindness. This involves focusing your thinking and emotions on sending loving kindness to the people you care about. You can also practice loving kindness for yourself. This will eventually rewire your brain and replace your negative thoughts and emotions.

Taking time to practice gratitude on a daily basis can be incredibly transforming. Human beings have a problem with unhealthy comparison and competition. Making the choice to be grateful is the best antidote.

I recently heard Oprah say that she keeps a gratitude journal. Without the practice of gratitude, even the wealthy and influential can get caught up in comparison and self-criticism.

Another way to practice gratitude is to write gratitude letters to people who have been kind to you or inspired you. A study conducted at U.C. Berkeley found that subjects who wrote these letters had significantly better mental health in 12 weeks. Berkeley’s Greater Good Center is packed full of resources for practicing gratitude and for making positive changes.

4. Making your primary "primary"

Unless someone tells me differently, I came up with this term. The concept comes from attachment theory, which was originated, by Dr. John Bowlby and expanded upon by Dr. Mary Ainsworth. These researchers found that infants form a primary attachment with one caretaker who they look at as a lifeline for emotional and physical support. When this primary attachment is insecure it often causes relationship problems later in life.

Researchers Shaver and Hazan found that adults also pair bond in lifetime relationships and have secure and insecure attachment styles. The book Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, talks about how secure and insecure attachment styles affect adult love relationships.

The bottom line is that we must make our primary adult love relationship primary in order to keep the relationship emotionally secure. Jealousy related to your partner’s affection is a strong survival instinct.

When you bond with another person as adults you regulate each other’s emotions, immune systems, pain and fear thresholds. You depend on each other financially and often share a sacred relationship with your children.

You make your primary relationship primary by letting your partner know that he or she comes first in everything — before other friendships, family members, job commitments and yes, even the children.

Taking inventory every day about whether you are making your primary relationship primary is about protecting and growing your most valuable asset.

5. Take time for your relationship

Okay, taking time for a relationship is clearly one of the best New Year's resolutions for helping you reach your couple and relationship goals. Problems develop when couples do not take time to connect and be intimate. So often they wait until the relationship is on the verge of death to come in for therapy.

Couples spend thousands of dollars on therapy. But it's like pulling teeth to get many of them to even spend fifteen minutes a day connecting with each other.

Love takes time. Communication is complex. Lovemaking is an art form that requires a couple's own special recipe of holding each other to create enough warmth to light the fire.

Established love takes intentionality. Gone are the new-love days of making out for hours or spending days in bed. You just don’t maintain the same neurochemistry in mature love relationships.

Mature love takes time. Time to make decisions, to hear each other’s thoughts and emotions. It takes time to work through disagreements, for recreation and time to stay connected with extended family and friends, and of course children.

A resolution about this for the New Year could involve committing to the amount of uninterrupted time you intend to devote exclusively to your partner on a daily basis. Yes, without the distraction of social media or text messages.

You may need to do the same for time spent with children, since they often get a lot more time at the expense of the marriage relationship.

RELATED: 12 New Year's Resolutions Couples Should Make Together

6. Set your relationship’s intention

After going through the incredible pain of a twenty-five-year marriage failure, I wanted to get it right in my current relationship. So Paula and I started out early defining our relationship's mission and vision. We had the whiteboard covered with color-coded bullet points, arrows, symbols, and all sorts of craziness that would seem indecipherable to even us today. It was great fun and very helpful.

Our hours of white boarding resulted in Paula quitting her job in accounting to administrate my couples' therapy practice, write a book together, and produce relationship education content. All part of our mission and vision to help couples prevent the problems we had in our earlier marriages.

We have been together for ten years and are pretty much on track with the overall intentions we set early in our relationship. That doesn't mean that we aren't continually checking in with each other and asking hard questions about keeping the relationship on course.

So setting your intention for your career goals is one thing. It is also important to set goals for how you want to recreate, connect with others, grow your spiritual life, and raise your children.

It is helpful to set your intention about how much stress you want to have in your life. What do you want your day-to-day relationship to feel like? What is on your bucket list for travel and life experiences?

How much time and money do you want to devote to helping others? What would that look like?

This one can be a lot of fun, but it doesn’t just "happen". You must take time to talk and dream together, then include these things in your New Year's resolutions.

7. Become spiritually centered

Staying spiritually centered is about understanding who you are and why you are on the Earth. It is about getting in touch with your "true self". Many writers throughout the ages have learned how to find a source of love inside of them that exceeds the love they can produce by their own effort.

Being spiritually centered requires reading about the lives of the great examples of divine love and practicing what you learn from them.

Writers who are no longer living — Brother Lawrence, Theresa of Avila, and Thomas Merton — are great resources for learning how to live a spiritually centered life.

Taking the time to meditate, pray, reflect, and to find the light of love in others as well as in creation, are all part of becoming spiritually centered.

It begins by knowing and living in the reality of the presence of divine love. Your true self will come forward when you can experience who you are as a human being with a spiritual center.

Setting intention about this requires taking time to read sacred texts. Try connecting with people who can serve as mentors and spiritual guides.

It's time to make those New Year's resolutions.

Now that you understand Goldsmith's active question exercise, I think you're ready to make your resolutions for 2019.

So take some time to really contemplate your goals, where you are, what's really important to you and your relationship, and what you want 2019 to look like. Dream about the transformation.

Get your accountability partner on board, and excited to help you stay intentional. Consider one or more from the list above. If these resolutions to transform your relationship don't feel quite fitting for you or your relationship, create your own.

We wish you the very best in 2019.

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Michael W. Regier, Ph.D. is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist and EFT Supervisor in Central California who works with individuals and couples to find and maintain healthy relationship. He and his wife Paula are authors of the book Emotional Connection: The Story & Science of Preventing Conflict & Creating Lifetime Love, and together they developed an online learning course based on the science of attachment and healthy relationship.

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This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.