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What Does "Self Help" Mean?

On the eve of each new year, people commit to making lifestyle changes they believe will usher in personal satisfaction and happiness. But while an entire industry exists to help people meet these pressing goals, most individuals still flounder. How many times can we try to lose weight, quit smoking, cut back on alcohol consumption, or try to find a more suitable purpose in life? One answer: As many times as it takes to get it right.

Lasting change is difficult to achieve because many of our habits are deeply ingrained, and certain core personality attributes may be immutable. But all habits and character traits can be altered to varying degrees. It's never too late to change and with effort and determination, it is possible to be the person you want to be, or at least someone closer to it.

Setting and Achieving Goals


Setting self-help goals start with identifying one's needs by answering both specific and broad questions: What do you want to change? What do you need to do to affect that change? What are your short-term goals? How about long-term? How realistic and achievable are those goals? What resources are available to help you meet them? It helps to make a list of the benefits of achieving your goals, to use for motivation. It also helps to set a timeframe for meeting both short-term and long-term goals—and to be flexible, because goals can change.

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Seeking Support


Self-help doesn’t necessarily mean going it alone. Mutual support groups for priorities like weight control, mental health, physical health, aging, bereavement, parenting, caregiving, career change, and addiction-related recovery not only provide like-minded companionship and encouragement but also knowledge and direction from peers and professional leaders. Personal characteristics, along with the nature and severity of the problem being addressed, will contribute to the effectiveness of any individual or group self-help plan.

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