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New Year Resolutions - A Different View

Reflect on 2011 and be thoughtful about 2012

We're at that special time of year yet again for New Year's resolutions. You know the drill... make plans to lose weight, exercise more, and find a way to make more money in 2012! Sadly, most folks who make resolutions rarely achieve success with them and often feel disappointed a few weeks or months into the New Year. So, this time around, how about considering approaching this issue a little bit differently?

First, as we come to the end of the year let's acknowledge that it is a natural and reasonable time of year for reflection on where we've been and where we might be going. So, go ahead and reflect on 2011 and ask yourself what you are grateful for now. If you are reading this blog post then you are alive and that is something to be grateful for so start there. What else are you grateful for as you come to the end of 2011? List the top 10 things you are grateful for as that ball in Times Square come down to usher in 2012.

I had a patient come in this week after not seeing her for several years and do exactly this. She's in her mid 60's and used the end of teh year to reflect on where she is now and where she might like to go in 2012 and beyond. She used our session as a check up on how she is thinking about and approaching long standing chronic problems in her life and those in her family.

Second, how would you like to be different in 2012? Sure, many people would like to lose weight, exercise more, have more financial resources, perhaps find a partner (or maybe a better partner) and so forth but realistically, list the 10 things you would like to see different for or about yourself in 2012. May I suggest that you don't just focus on the superficial things such as more money and better looks but consider items that are more truly meaningful and ultimately perhaps much more satisfying? May I suggest that you consider ways to be more loving, giving, grateful, compassionate, ethical in addition to the often frequently listed resolutions such as losing weight and exercising more?

Again, my patient this week tried to focus on being more compassionate and grateful in 2012 and in doing so, reduce stress and strain in her life.

Third, ask yourself if these suggested changes are reasonable. Perhaps asking others who know you well if your list of things that you wish would be different for yourself in 2012 are really attainable. Keep those that are doable and get rid of those that are not. Maybe create a list of 3 to 5 items and rank order them for youself.

Now, brainstorm a game plan to try and make progress towards your goals. Be concrete and specific too. Post it somewhere where you will see it often.

Finally, take a deep breath and be grateful that you made it through another year and hope and pray that 2012 will be a good year for you, those you care about, and for everyone else to boot. Perhaps the right thing to do for yourself entering into 2012 could be a spirit of gratefulness for what you have and being mindful of reasonable expectations for ways to make things better for yourself and those around you in the new year. And if you find yourself doing the same thing this time next year, be grateful for yet another year of life.

So, what do you thnik?