I recently wrote an article for a national news outlet titled “Five Psychological Tips to Help You Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution.” Since its publication I have received multiple inquires from the media and others about how these tips can be applied to various specific resolutions.

The five tips that I wrote about were: (1) Tell others about the resolution, (2) choose a measurable and specific resolution, (3) build in a reward system, (4) create resolution visual aids, and (5) start with a ceremony.

Allow me to apply these five steps to a less common resolution, but one that is in desperate need of some exposure and that can change your life in profoundly meaningful ways: resolving to enhance the relationship you have with your siblings. As always, with me, it all comes back to siblings.

Tell others about the resolution

It is easier to stick to a resolution when other people know about your plan. Others can support you and serve as your personal team of cheerleaders. They can also be there to constantly remind you about your resolution. You are also less likely to break the resolution in fear of disappointing all these people who have been cheering for you. Simply tell people you are close with that you plan on becoming a better brother or sister this upcoming year. Post it on social media; get people talking about it, create some excitement about your siblings. Your friends will cheer you on as your relationship grows.

Choose a measurable and specific resolution

Instead of resolving to “have a better relationship with my sister” choose a more specific resolution that can be tracked clearly as you accomplish this goal. Resolve to “go out for coffee once a week with Becky” or “send her a nice text or email at least once a day.” Framing it this way is easier to track and see if you are accomplishing your goals.

Build in a reward system

As an extension of the last tip, when you accomplish the specific goals you set out for yourself over a week or a month give yourself a small reward along the process. For example, for every week of maintaining a positive connection with your brother, treat yourself with something special. By choosing a specific resolution that can be accomplished in units you can track your progress and reward yourself for a job well done.

Create resolution visual aids

Think about some type of artifact or picture that you can post in a prominent place at home that can be a constant reminder about why you are working so hard on keeping to your resolution. Some siblings may be hard to work with but if you have a great picture of you and your sister during better times you can look at that picture as a constant reminder about why you are making the effort to reconnect with her.

Start with a ceremony

Finally, start the entire process with a ceremony. Launching your resolution with a bang can help give you the boost needed to get going. Start your resolution with some type of event or ceremony. Maybe travel back to your childhood neighborhood and allow the location and the memories of you and your sisters to mark the beginning of a new chapter in your sibling relationship. Maybe get away for a weekend with your sibling to jump-start your connection. A more simple ceremony can be getting together one night with your sibling and your favorite childhood movie and ice cream to reignite the good old days. Try and literally turn a new page in some way.

Resolutions are hard to maintain. However, using these tips can help you reconnect with your siblings. The sibling bond is a relationship worth investing in—it will be the longest relationship you will ever have.

About the Author

Avidan Milevsky, Ph.D.

Avidan Milevsky, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.

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