• David Unger, PhD

New Year's Resolutions


New post old picture. I am reposting the picture because like the resolutions on it, it bears repeating. We often have good intentions that we have difficulty putting into action. I am reminded of the line from the Lyle Lovett song Good Intentions, “She wasn’t good, but she had good intentions.” I imagine all of us have seen some of our good intentions not quite materialize the way we hoped.


I certainly can think of plenty of things I have wanted to do, but just have not had the oomph to put into operation. One of the first jobs I got after grad school was as a trainer. I wasn’t really qualified to be a trainer, but was hired by someone who had a consulting firm to facilitate a forty hour class he had designed. At the time, he was being paid big bucks to be the trainer for this course. He realized he could hire me and my colleague Olivia to facilitate the course and pay us what we thought was a good sum while he pocketed an even better sum. It was a good business model for him and gave Olivia and I our first experiences as trainers.


To fill the hours he designed (or more likely adapted from someone else) a model about eight stages that relationships go through. I will write about those stages in another post, but for the purposes of talking about New Year’s Resolutions, I want to mention two of the stages as I think they illustrate why we can have good intentions but not so good follow through.


One of the stages in romantic relationships he titled Caring. It’s the period after you meet someone and get to know them better when you discover that you care about them. You're eager to know more about them, you're happy when their happy and sad when they are sad. You want good things for them, well you mostly want that for everyone, but more so for them.


I liken the Caring stage to when you think about something you want to do in the new year. A habit you want to break or an activity you want to engage in. You care about something in your life that you want to improve, expand or devote more of your time and energy. You like the idea of starting the new year engaged in this new thing. You care about it.


Another stage in relationships is titled Deeper Level of Caring. That is the point in the relationship when you realize you really do care about this person. You want more of them in your life. You want to up the ante, become an item, make some declaration to the other. You want to commit your time, energy, interest and love.


You can see where this is going. If you want your new year’s resolutions to stand a better chance of becoming ingrained in your life, you are going to need to have a deeper level of caring. Something has to happen with your caring to move it to a deeper level. Any number of things can move that needle. But your focus needs to shift from something you care about doing to something you really care about doing and can commit yourself to at a deeper level.


Most people start the year with good intentions but by the end of January they have gone back to their previous ways. You don’t need to feel that badly when that happens as you have a lot of company. If you want to hold on to your intentions through the end of the month and for an extended period you will need to find that deeper level of caring. Good luck.


#NewYearsResolutions #Caring #DeeperLevelofCaring #LyleLovett #Intentions

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