Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

New Year’s resolutions never stick? Brother-in-law fired for harassment and now your expected to give him support?

DEAR NATALIE: Every year, I make resolutions to eat better, work out more and date nice guys. And every year, I break this resolution. I have literally no willpower when it comes to men or food. I have a very demanding job and I have little time for myself. Exercising is a challenge, too. Do you have any ideas for ways to keep resolutions and break bad habits? I want off this merry-go-round and would like to get married while I am still young-ish. --THE CYCLE CONTINUES

DEAR THE CYCLE CONTINUES: I am not a big fan of resolutions. It puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on people and sets them up for failure. According to research conducted by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. This does not inspire hope for the rest of us. Instead of feeling bad by the end of January, try this: Start a gratitude list on things you wish to improve. For example, instead of “I need to eat healthier this year,” try: “I love my body. I love how it fuels me to reach my goals. I am going to be grateful for the ability to nourish it with foods that energize and revitalize me.” Instead of “I will work out four times a week, every week,” try: “I am grateful for the chance I have to move my body. I am grateful for how strong my body is and what it can do for me. I am grateful for any opportunities to be active.” The way our mind shifts when your words shift is amazing. Repeat these statements every day, out loud. You may start becoming more mindful of what you are eating. You may become more mindful of how many steps you take every day or for the opportunity to take a yoga class when it presents itself. You may even start loving yourself a little more, recognizing your worth and identifying those “nice guys” because you are being a little nicer to yourself.

DEAR NATALIE: My brother-in-law recently got fired from his job after a woman accused him of harassment. My sister is standing by him, saying that he would never do anything like that and that this woman is just out to hurt him because she is in love with him. He claims that he has shot down her advances several times at the office so she threatened him that she would go to management if they didn’t run away together. Well, here we are. He was fired and she has left for another job in a new city. Now, I think this story sounds over-the-top and too dramatic to be true. My brother-in-law has never been my favorite person, so this doesn’t surprise me. But my sister is upset with me, now, because she thinks I am not lending enough support to her or him. I feel frustrated because I don’t really want to fake any kind of emotions for him. I feel badly for her, however. How should I move forward with this? --CAN’T FAKE IT

DEAR CAN’T FAKE IT: The fact that he was fired shows that there must have been some kind of concrete evidence to suggest that he was causing problems for her at work. They could have also been having an affair. Reading between the lines, it suggests that they could have been involved with each other. The fact that he told your sister that she was “in love with him” is interesting. Why would he say that? Maybe he was in love with her and wanted to have an affair. Maybe she refused and he started harassing her. Or, maybe this just sounds like the beginning of a bad Lifetime movie. This is a pretty complicated situation and we will never really know the truth, but either way, your brother-in-law is possibly sexually harassing women or having extramarital affairs. Or both. He wouldn’t be my favorite person, either. But, whatever the case, your sister is taking the “stand by your man” approach to dealing with this and there really isn’t anything you can do about that. However, it is also not her place to tell you how you should react to all of this information. I would tell her that while you love and care about her very much, you are still processing what she told you. It isn’t your responsibility to emotionally support him. Be there for her and see how things unfold.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Get out of your office. You will not meet people and make lasting connections by hiding inside your comfort zone. Connect with people via email and set up coffee-dates to get to know those in your community that can help you do your job better, and those you can help in return.

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, nbencivenga@post-gazette.com; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)