Why Relationship Goals Make the Best New Year’s Resolutions

In less than 72 hours, January 2016 will be over. Did you make it through the month? Are you sticking with your New Year’s Resolutions?

Perhaps you’re still going strong. You woke up this morning feeling good about your grit and determination. You smiled at yourself in the mirror while you flossed your teeth for the 29th day in a row. Congratulations! You are amazing!

Perhaps you made the classic blunder of setting your goals too high, and now you’re discouraged. Your gym membership has been neglected, or worse, your running shoes are still in the box.  Don’t worry. You’re just as amazing as the other guy! It could be that you just need some extra portions of people, perspective, and pragmatism. And we at FHSS are here to provide you with just that.

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Trying again can seem daunting, but if you’re struggling to keep your resolutions, it may help if you start over. One of the most difficult things about NOT achieving your goals is that it becomes more painful to set new ones. Sometimes the first step toward progress is admitting that you made a mistake.


If you make a mistake on the first calculation on a math problem, it won’t matter how well you do the rest. Until you fix the original error, moving on won’t improve the situation. And such it is for obtaining a goal. If you set the wrong type of goal, whether it be too lofty, superficial, or ambiguous, you are much less likely to achieve it.

So let’s find out what kind of goals are the best ones to set.

Setting Proper Goals

What kind of goals, when achieved, will make a person happy? To answer that question, we can simply place any kind of goal, whether it be mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual, into one of two categories:

  1. Endogenous goals (relationship based)
  2. Exogenous Goals (material based)

Setting and achieving both of these kinds of goals can be beneficial. However, only one of them will bring prolonged happiness. Goals that help you improve relationships with friends, family, your significant other, and God are most likely to endure. This video from BYU’s Wheatley Institution sums it all up:

Haters Gonna Hate

There are people out there who would discourage you from setting any kind of goal. It’s not uncommon for people to hear that New Year’s Resolutions are bogus. Once in a while, a hater or two might try to discourage you from participating in the New Year’s tradition. A few familiar phrases include:

  1. If you’re going to set a goal, you shouldn’t wait until the first of the year, or for some sort of lame tradition. You should set the goal NOW.
  2. Most people don’t keep their new year’s resolutions. So why bother?
  3. In the end, they will just make you feel worse about yourself because you won’t keep them.

You’ve probably heard these phrases, or something similar to them before. Perhaps someone persuaded you to NOT set a goal. But think about it. If we listen to those people, we allow ourselves to be persuaded to give up before even trying.

sad dog.jpg

To avoid being confounded by New Year’s Resolution haters, here are a few rebuttals to use when you hear this kind of talk:

  1. Well, maybe I just don’t think to set goals very often. New Years helps me remember how important it is. And besides, most other holidays, we decide we’re just going to over-eat, take time off of work, or light fireworks. Why can’t we have a tradition where we at least TRY to improve ourselves?
  2. I, my friend, am not “most people.”
  3. But, if I do keep them, then I’ll feel better about myself. And I can learn from my mistakes and failures.

Team Up

If you want to achieve a goal that has more to do with material things, then find a partner to join you in achieving it.  Whether you already know someone well, or would like to know them better, setting a common goal will improve your relationship. If you want to make exercise a part of your daily life, decide on a time and place you can work out together. If you want to read more, start a small book club. There are numerous ways to team up for achievement.

Teaming up to achieve a goal increases your likelihood of succeeding for at least four reasons:

  1. You are held accountable to another person. Their dependence on you can motivate you to be dependable and reach new heights.
  2. Wanting to spend time with your partner will increase your drive to spend time on achieving the goal.
  3. You can celebrate each other’s successes.
  4. Competition can raise incentive to work hard and be diligent.

Brooklyn Bridge

What’s even more beautiful about this type of goal is that it makes exogenous (material based) goals the means to an end that is endogenous (relationship based). As you work with a partner to reach a common goal, you can develop and strengthen your relationship with them. It’s a win-win situation. You will spend time and communicate with someone you love and care for. You will have chances to validate their excitement for successes or discuss their concerns about roadblocks in road to achievement.

Start with the right end in mind. Put priority on relationship-based goals. Cultivate love for God and your fellow man, and in the process, you may just find that everything else falls right into place.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?


Starfish and Making A Difference

“A man walking on an ocean beach noticed that a young man was reaching down, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. As he came closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the older man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the man said, “Young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish along every mile? You cannot possibly make a difference!”

At this the young man bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it landed in the water, he said, “I made a difference for that one.” 1

Each of us has the power within to make a difference in the lives of others. In less than four months some of us will be graduating from this great university. Like you, I’m planning on making 2016 the best year ever. With that in mind, there is a lot of work to do. Between classes, extracurricular activities, and making memories, making a difference might not be so high on goals for the year. But, remember: we all have the same hours in the day as Beyoncé.

If you haven’t made your goals for the New Year, there is never a better time than the present to do so. Goal setting is critical to success in any stage of life. Whether you are graduating, half-way through or just getting used to the cougar lifestyle – consider the following advice:

“The establishment of goals in our lives is of extreme importance; without them we are blind. There is a difference between a wish and a goal. We should make our days count, not just count days (J. Thomas Fyans).”

In order to make your days count, here are ten ways to make a difference.

1. Save money (It will make a difference to your pocket/bank account!) I was a seasonal worker at Nordstrom (a large fashion retailer) but I paid them to work in terms of buying store merchandise. I was surrounded with articles of clothing with the words “TAKE ME” printed on the price tag. Saving money is a disciplined activity. Financial freedom makes all the difference.

2. Use online or mobile services to connect with someone far away or someone you haven’t talked to in years. Try What’s App, Skype or Google Chat and get talking. Reaching out to someone on another continent has never been easier.

3. Read the news. It’s election year and it will make a difference at the voting booth. We need informed voters, not ignorant ones. Make a difference in your community by learning about issues on a local, state, and national level and vote for wise, honest candidates for public office.

4. Learn something new each day. Rather than play “Candy Saga Crush” —no judgment— learn something new like a foreign word (have you heard of DuoLingo?) Pick a new book outside of course study to read for pleasure and expand your knowledge.

5. Write a letter or card and send it or hand deliver it to someone. Just because the holidays have passed does not mean you can’t write a card and deliver it. I’m sure you know people with birthdays. Get them a card.

6. Find a new song or perfect melody that matches your optimism for 2016. Sing happy!

7. Make a mistake AND own it. It’s too easy to blame others and criticize, thinking we would or could do it better. Accept responsibility 100 percent of the time for 100 percent of your actions. This will make a world of difference.

8. Share something on social media – and make a difference in the world with a reference to who you are or what is important to you.


9. Get rid of at least one annoying/bad/off-putting habit. We all have idiosyncrasies. Some are more visible than others. If it is wasting time reading a gossip magazine, chewing food loudly, interrupting people when they speak–focus on it and eliminate it from your conduct. I’m sure you can make at least one person happy, if not yourself.

10. Look for ways to add “thank you,” “I love you,” “please forgive me,” and “I forgive you” to your daily life. No explanation necessary.

If there is one take away from this article: just make someone happy. Cheers to you and 2016!


1  Adapted from Loren C. Eiseley, The Star Thrower (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979).