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Here we are at another milestone.  Fireworks at the ready.  Party clothes on. Champagne corked. Eyes glued to the big ball.

Helpful people have already inquired about our New Year’s Resolutions: “Do you have any? What are they?” Blah, blah, blah.

In my humble opinion, these are the wrong questions.  Before we think up any resolutions (or revive any old ones), we need to do something super important:

We need to have an Exit Interview for the Old Year.

Why?  Because if we skip this important task, we run the risk of repeating the same tired mistakes indefinitely.  Imagine if a company never asked questions of employees who leave?  Poor practices could run that business into the ground.  Just like our poor choices could destroy our physical, emotional, or financial health, or even destroy our relationships.

So to avoid mass destruction (pardon the hyperbole, please), we need to look in the mirror, and assess how we showed up in the past year.  Right now, I’m focusing on relationships, so that’s the angle I’ll take.  But you can adopt the Exit Interview for health or finances or anything.  It all starts by asking yourself some simple, but probing questions…

Question 1: How did I show up in the past year?

Starting with our most important relationship, we need to consider what we did and how we did it – all through the year.  It’s time for honesty.  Take a moment right now to remember what you did in your relationship in the past year, and how you did it. Let scenes from the past year roll like  movie in your mind.  Don’t judge yourself, just observe how events actually played out, and focus on your role in them.

Once that movie has played in your mind from January to December, hit the pause button and move to next question…

Question 2: What did I do that worked?

Regardless of how much the year sucked, you did something right.  You arrived intact at this moment.  Maybe arguments persist, BUT they’re less frequent.  Instead of having no dates in 12 months, maybe you had 6.  If you’re the nagger, maybe you nag less.  If you’re the avoider, maybe you avoid less.  Give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made.  What positive moves have you made in the past year?

Before you take another step foward, before you make a single New Year’s Resolution, affirm the changes you’ve already made. It’s important to give yourself credit for what worked.  That way you’ll know what to repeat in the New Year.  Now onto the next question…

Question 3: What did I do that didn’t work?

Here’s where we take a deep breath, and acknowledge that we dropped the ball. Maybe a lot.  We note the good things we neglected to do, and those we flat out refused to do.  We acknowledge that sometimes we did the right things with the wrong attitude, and created unnecessary harm.   We recognize that failure to control our spending or drinking or nagging or you-fill-in-the-blank took a toll on our relationship.

Forget your spouse or significant other.  Before you traipse into the future, armed with New Year’s Resolutions,  make sure you know what needs to change about you. Let that golden knowledge fuel your resolutions.

The Bottom Line:

What  good are New Year’s Resolutions that ignore the truth of reality? 

When resolutions reflect our strengths and personal progress (what works), and our convictions about necessary change (what doesn’t work), they gain power.

And when those resolutions are powered by a willing heart, change engines start to roar – or at least purr.  And our future can be different from our past.

If your Relationship With Yourself needs help, I encourage you to explore couples counseling

And if my words resonate with you, I invite you to contact me