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10 Steps You Can Take Today To Improve Your Relationships Tomorrow

10 Steps You Can Take Today To Improve Your Relationships Tomorrow

10 Steps You Can Take Today To Improve Your Relationships Tomorrow

Are you a resolution-maker or a resolution-hater?

The University of Scranton recently released some fascinating data about our relationships to New Year’s Resolutions. They discovered that 55% of us no longer make resolutions. 45% of us still make them but over half of resolution-makers give up by the end of January. On the whole, only 8% of us actually keep our resolutions for year or more. The Top 10 resolutions vary little year to year and the average resolution-maker pursues the same resolution 10 times before they become successful.

I found this data fascinating, but many of you may find it depressing. As researcher Ed Stetzer says, “facts are our friends.” So if we don’t need to run from the facts, how do we find change?

I think we find change by focusing on the habits which actually produce change. For example, one of the top 10 resolutions year-in and year-out is “have better relationships.” We aspire to more meaningful, intentional friendships. At the end of our lives, we won’t wish we hustled more, returned more emails, closed more deals, binged more Netflix or liked more photos. We will wish we had spent more time and offered more love to the people we care about most.

Where do we start?

The following 10 actions are steps you could take today to make your relationships better tomorrow. Most of them are free, the rest are cheap. They don’t a lot of time, but they do require intentionality. They’re simple, but not necessarily easy. But if you’re looking for better relationships this year, these 10 actions could go a long way.

1. Pay more attention to the person who is in front of you than the person who is on your phone.

As we connect more and more digitally, in-person connection means so much more. We’ve all been around a table at a meal and discovered there were more people at the meal than were around the table. When you sit down to meet with someone, turn your phone over. When your group goes out to dinner, put all the phones in the table and whoever grabs their first has to foot the bill.

2. Focus on listening instead of preparing to reply.

One of my friends shared with me how frustrating her experience was on New Year’s Eve as a party devolved into a one-up contest on who could share the funniest/most-ridiculous video from YouTube. While I started to join her in bemoaning this terrible event, I realized how often I do the same thing. We all get caught up in thinking about what we’re going to say to someone else instead of what they’re sharing with us. Turn the focus off yourself and onto the other person.

3. Write a thank you note.

Not a thank you text or a thank you Facebook message. Pen, paper, and stamp. I know it’s old-school, but we’re all getting enough junk mail, bills, and political ads. Surprise someone with a personal message, showing gratitude for something they’ve done for you. As Andy Stanley recently said, “Unstated gratitude actually communicates ingratitude.”

4. Apologize genuinely.

My friend recently told me that the three phrases he tries to use everyday are, “Please, thank you and I’m sorry.” Sure, there might be some split in the fault between you and the other person. But if you want better relationships, you cannot play the waiting game and make the other person apologize first. When you care more about the other person than you do about being right, deciding to apologize doesn’t require much consideration.

5. Be intentionally generous

Think about the people who you appreciate most as friends. Are they the most stingy, greedy, and tight-fisted people you know? Or are they the most open, giving and generous people you know? One of the secrets to great friendships is learning to be the kind of friend you want to have. So, pick someone up their favorite coffee on the way to work or order something they’ve been saying they need from Amazon. Offer to take them to the airport for their next trip.

6. Call someone to say happy birthday

How many people left you happy birthday messages on your Facebook wall last year? 50? 100? 200? How much impact did that many people writing the same generic message have? Go open your Facebook page, find someone who is having a birthday today and call them on the phone. Talk to them. Ask how they’re doing and what they’re doing to celebrate. Share one thing you appreciate about your friendship. A five-minute phone call can mean more than 500 people writing generic sentiments.

7. Help someone see the impact they’re having

The staff of our organization gather on the fourth Wednesday of each month with one purpose – to share stories. We share anecdotes about the impact we’re having. Each of us, left to ourselves, often loses perspective. But together, we can see more clearly and completely. If you’re a teacher, encourage the student of a fellow teacher to write a note encouraging them. If you know a coach or mentor, reach out and tell them how much progress you see in those they are influencing.

8. Read a book

At your fingertips, on-demand, for a relatively low price, you can have access to the leading experts in the field of relationships. Struggling with vulnerability? Check out The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown or Scary Close by Donald Miller. Not understanding a friend or partner? Search for The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Feeling taken advantage of? Read Boundaries by Henry Cloud.

9. Ask a question

The one thing we will never run out of on planet earth are opinions. You can get to know the people in your life by simply asking more questions. Post a question on your social media platform of choice or send a group email or text to a group of friends. The most interesting people in the world are often the most curious.

10. Forgive

If you were to die tonight, would that grudge you’re carrying be worth it? If the person you refused to forgive tonight, would you want to attend their funeral knowing you never made it right? My wife and I regularly ask our three-year old when he is in mid-meltdown, “Is this a big deal or a little deal?” In a world where we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, unforgiveness is an investment that simply isn’t worth the risk. You could change your life and a relationship today by choosing to forgive.

If you’d like to download a copy of this list as a full-color, one-page PDF, visit Scott’s blog here to obtain your PDF as a gift to the readers of



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