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The 5 Percent Resolution
Instead of having 5 degrees of separation, use the 5 percent rule to bring the ones you love closer.

When you're looking to make a change, you don't have to completely change course.

When it comes to resolutions, think small and work to remain consistent. Someone told me a long time ago that if you can change any area of your life by a consistent 5 percent, the effects will be remarkable. The truth of this is mirrored in the reality of global warming. Even changes of a single degree can make a difference. Just a few years ago, what was imperceptible even to scientists was altering the landscape of our collective future. This 5 percent rule applies to our personal ecosystems as well—the smallest of changes in how you communicate with your spouse can and does alter the course of each other’s future.

Bad things happen fast, and good things take time. This is the caveat of how the 5 percent rule works. Accidents, illnesses, forces of nature, like hurricanes or tornados, arrive in a moment often without warning. Personal catastrophes like a death in the family can put a real strain on everything around you. How is it possible that you and your spouse could not see these things coming? Relationships are fragile eco-systems and, just as in the aftermath of a storm, rebuilding and recuperation is a process that takes time and patience.

This fact can apply to growing families or aging parents as easily as it does to you and your spouse. Keeping relationships healthy and healing the ones that are ailing are not a quick fix solution—it is a resolution to keep the 5 percent rule in action. It is willing to do that one extra act of kindness each day. It is taking the time to listen even when you have heard enough. It is finding the energy to be intimate even when you don’t feel connected. It is the laundry and the dishes and that extra trip to the grocery store after you have already been.

The 5 percent rule is a good resolution to take on no matter what your life situation. Another way of thinking about it is like a continuous improvement plan, where we agree to remain vigilant to our own attitude and willingness to participate. It acknowledges that we are not going to be perfect or expect perfection, but rather with realistic intentions, strive to be just a bit better than yesterday. It respects the time it takes for small, seemingly imperceptible changes to be felt and experienced.

Making a resolution to live with a 5 percent improvement plan is a heroic act. Not only do you courageously embrace the unpredictable and uncertainty that happens in every life, but you simultaneously hold your heart open, trying to make the small acts of living softer and more bearable for your spouse and the people you love. It is a resolution you can keep because it commits you to a process rather than an outcome and gives you the freedom to miss the mark some days.

So go ahead, resolve to get better at whatever you choose—or what the heck, just resolve to get better in your whole life, but just go for 5 percent—it will be plenty.

Wendy Strgar is the founder of GoodCleanLove.com, which provides products and advice for sustainable love. If you have questions about products or toys send them in and Wendy will be happy to share her knowledge. When visiting the website, use coupon code NEWSITE08, to enjoy a new year 15 percent discount.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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