Why you should care
Because why make a resolution for yourself when you could make one for someone else?
It’s a typical start to a typical workday at OZY. I walk through our door and over to my desk, only to be greeted the same way I’m greeted every other morning — by the soles of my colleague Libby Coleman’s shoes, propped up on the desk before her. On this day, it’s a pair of brown leather boots, feet crossed one over the other. Her face hidden behind the laptop nestled in her lap.
If I could make one New Year’s resolution, it wouldn’t be for myself. It would be for — you guessed it! — my dear friend and coworker Ms. Coleman. She’d cease and desist her nasty (in my opinion and that of those who care about health) habit of putting her feet up on desks. Forevermore she’d be grounded, literally.
And why shouldn’t we make resolutions for others? After all, sometimes it’s hard to see the reflection in the mirror when you have your very human blinders on. Coleman, for instance, maintains her shoes are “superclean” and suggests that sitting with one’s feet on the ground for long periods is unhealthy. Ahem. It turns out that those closest to us sometimes do know what’s best for us — or what’s best for the relationship. Perhaps we think we should resolve to get our booty to the gym, when in reality the bigger priority should be to stop staring at our phones after the lights are out since we have trouble sleeping (not talking about myself).
Even if you’re not deluded about potential areas of improvement, self-regulation is among the weakest forms out there. One oft-cited statistic has it that a mere 8 percent of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. When it comes to changing our worst habits, the stubborn white-knuckler tends to fail, which is why we have support groups and clergy and therapists in the first place. An even swap — between friends, lovers, co-founders — could help make us more accountable in our quest for self-improvement, and more supported too.
Of course, this situation could backfire terribly, with New Year’s Day turned into a colossal grudge match among one’s nearest and dearest. Besides, psychologists argue that change has to start with the person at the center of it all. “Truthfully, we really can’t change anyone who doesn’t want to change,” says Kristin Donato, life coach and marriage and family therapist intern. But perhaps trading resolutions, one for one, would provide its own powerful incentive.
Speaking of, if you’re wondering what that one-for-one resolution swap would be from Libby for me: It’s that I stop critiquing others’ music tastes. (Even though mine aren’t exactly fancy.) See, I would’ve never known if I didn’t prod her to ask what I could improve on in the workplace. Now I’ll be gentler when I hear her ask to put Meghan Trainor on repeat. Again.
But it doesn’t mean I’ll like it. Sorry, Libby.
What resolutions would you make for your friends, lovers or colleagues? Let us know in the comments.