Friday, December 29, 2017


I've been asking a lot of clients and friends about their new year's resolutions. I'm not looking for the usual "I want to lose 20lbs" answers. I don't want typical. I want real and doable goals to accomplish.
Let's face it, 2017 was hard, harder than anyone expected after the Hell that was 2016. I know a lot of you are not expecting 2018 to be a banner year for a happy, stress free string of successes. Most of us are just hoping to still draw oxygen a year from now with a roof over our heads. I know, a bleak outlook, but I am realistic if anything.
There are a lot of realms in life that could use a little push. Including coming up with ideas for "resolutions". So I am going to offer a list of potential areas in your life and mine where some improvement could take place:

1. Financial
   a. Buy only necessary items. Food, shampoo, cat litter and the like. Use only the money you have in your account to reduce credit card spending. If you have significant debt, pay back as much as you can afford each month. Review any automatic charges - memberships you don't use, etc.
   b. If you must buy something that is usually more expensive, check your local neighborhood sale pages. Someone may be selling what you need. The money goes right into the pocket of someone who will put that money to better use.
   c. Keep a daily expense tracker - either on paper or in your phone/tablet. This will help you stick with your budget and know where your money is actually going. 

2. Social
   a. Meet at least one friend per month for coffee, lunch, jog, or just a walk at lunchtime. Connect in real time, face to face. No phones allowed.
   b. If you find that your social life is taking over every other responsibility, take one day each weekend to get all of your chores done. Laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping. Then you can go out and be the little butterfly you are stress free.

3. Health
   a. Exercise three times a week for at least 30 minutes. This really shouldn't be an optional item. It is one of the most important things you can do for your health, along with NOT SMOKING.
   b. Eat clean - no junk food, fast food, soda, sugary drinks. Eat more fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and fish, beans, whole grains. Drink a lot of water. You'll feel better almost instantly. Get support from friends and peers who are also trying to do this. Pack lunch to work each morning so you aren't tempted to go to The Golden Arches. This doesn't have to be about pounds lost, if you want to quantify improved health, get your blood work done now, and again in a year.
   c. Cut back on alcohol. If you think you need to do this, then you probably do. Alcohol might be tasty and fun but it goes straight to the gut with empty calories, and probably some other unhealthy choices along the way.

4. Professional
   a. Depending on your profession, you may have to do some learning to maintain your job, or certifications. Learning doesn't have to be a chore, if you have some flexibility, then find a class or training that makes you excited to go.
   b. Read a book, article, blog post, watch a video,  a month on the topic of your profession. Keep a list of what you have read and what you learned.
   c. If you have thought about a career change, now is a good time to look into your choices. What will it cost? Is it right for you? How long will it take to make the switch?

5. Mental Health
   a. I wouldn't be a good therapist if I didn't bring this up. Be honest with yourself. Has your anxiety, depression, drinking, anger, gotten in the way of enjoying the things you usually enjoy? Your relationships? Your environment? Your job? It's a good time to find a friendly neighborhood therapist and work through some of the barriers that are keeping you from living life to the fullest. You deserve to.
   b. Like many people this year, there was a lot of anger. Make a resolution to get politically involved, join a campaign for a candidate you support, write to your current elected officials. Run for office if you have what it takes. Confront the things that are making you angry but have open dialogues with people to find solutions.

6. Dreams... My favorite.
   a. Keep a list of things you have always wanted to do. Ride a motorcycle, skydive, scuba dive, travel to Japan, adopt a pet. What would it take for you to accomplish one of these this year? With money saved (above) could you afford one of these things? Could you start planning to do one or more of these things in the next 5 years? Just because it's a dream doesn't mean it can't be done ever. Just maybe not right this instant. That's what a goal is - something to reach for, over time, and many steps to take. Make a vision board to keep you focused on it - cut out magazine photos of Ireland and put $5 in a jar every pay day. You can get there.

Along with looking forward, take stock of what is behind you in the last 12 months. You probably accomplished more than you realize, even if your old list isn't all checked off. I personally had a few ideas fall flat, but there were other good surprises that made up for it. It's important not to overlook those, after all. What is the saying about the best laid plans are paved with good intentions? That's all you really need: the will to move ahead.

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