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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

A New Year’s Resolution Everyone Should Consider

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

As we begin the new year, there is frequently the resolve to make changes in our lives. The resolutions range from the mundane to the magnificent. Get organized. Clean out the garage. Save more money or spend less money. Lose weight, exercise more. Quit smoking. These are all some of the more common New Year Resolutions.

As worthy as these resolutions might be, I want to suggest one that might make a profound difference in your life over time while not being that difficult to accomplish.

But first some background. In recent weeks I’ve had several conversations and made additional observations that have caused me to reflect on a significant change that have taken place in our culture over the years. Namely, as a society we seem to be less focused on the importance and even the necessity that strong, interpersonal relationships can have in our lives.

As I reflected on this condition, it came as no surprise that the internet, Facebook and Instagram are just of few of the modern-day phenomena that may have contributed to the demise of strong interpersonal relationships in our lives.

Several months ago, I met a man who after 16 years with a multi-national company where he had the privilege of working remotely, found himself caught up in a reorganization which resulted in his job being eliminated. Because all of his work was spent supporting internal customers from lines of business around the world, he had virtually no personal network in the local business community which made it very difficult for him to find his next opportunity.

Recently I was visiting with a friend who was lamenting the fact that his daughter and son-in-law who were totally focused on the raising of their two young children were struggling and with some of the rigors of parenting. While all parents have gone through similar challenges, his observation was that they were doing this in a vacuum, and that other than family, they had very few individuals at the same stage in life with whom they could commiserate and/or even compare notes with regarding the challenges of parenting.

Finally, a young man I was coaching recently shared with me his frustrations around his career. While he had risen very rapidly with a technology related company over the past 10 years and had considerable responsibility with clients around the globe, he was approaching “burn out” as a result of trying to maintain a 60 to 70-hour work week. As we spoke, it became clear that his life was all about work and that outside of work he had very few, if any, interests and/or meaningful personal relationship.

These three conversations along with other observations I’ve made recently prompt me to reflect on the importance of interpersonal relationships in our lives.

At the end of last November, I had an elective surgical procedure which I’m pleased to report went well as has the recovery. In the days and weeks leading up to the procedure I was overwhelmed by the number of folks who reached out to me just to let me know that I was in their thoughts and prayers.

Through this experience it occurred to me that sometimes we never appreciate how important it is to have friends in our lives until we’re confronted with a challenge (health issue, loss of a job or a loved one, divorce, or perhaps just the day to day rigors of parenting) and we really need someone to talk to.

I’ve yet to meet the person who has complained to me that, “they have too many friends." So, with that in mind, I’d like to challenge you to resolve this year to work on improving, enhancing or expanding your relationships with others.

Like most things the secret sauce here is to how best to go about doing this. Hint, the solution (in my opinion) has nothing to do with the internet, Facebook or Instagram. Rather, the remedy revolves around connecting with people face-to-face.

At the risk of sounding old fashion or pedantic, here are some “novel” ways in which you may be able to enhance your personal relationships with others.

Ask someone to mentor you or offer to be a mentor to another

Coach a children’s athletic team

Join a book club or start one

Schedule a coffee date with someone you’d like to get to know better each week

Join a non-profit board

Get involved with a small group at your place of worship

Volunteer at an after-school program

Take a mission trip

Ask for an additional committee assignment at your place of work

Get a dog and walk him/her regularly

These are just a few suggestions that can be the springboard towards making new relationships and of course there are others.

The point, to quote C. S. Lewis, is simply this.

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one."

My hope for each of you is that you’d have a few more ‘What! You too?’ people in your life at the end of 2019.

Happy New Year!

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Jan 03, 2019

Great post, Leigh. My New Year's resolution last year was to write a personal note to one person each week who has made a difference in my life. It might seem difficult to come up with 52 people, but as I reflected on family members, friends and colleagues through the years, it was easy. I really enjoyed reminiscing as I wrote the notes, and was surprised at how many people reconnected with me. In some cases, I had not spoken with them in years! It took a little sleuthing to find some addresses, but it was worth it. An easy way to count our blessings and let others know how much they are appreciated and valued.

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