“Out with the old, in with the new” – hands up if you make New Years’ Resolutions?
Keep your hand up if you get to the end of the first or second week in January and the “new” resolution has gone the way of “the old”, i.e. “out”?
A study conducted by the University of Scranton found that 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s Resolution. Only about 8% achieve their New Year’s Goals. I’m not sure what happens to the other 12% but suffice to say, Resolutions are VERY hard to stick with.
First off I must salute the 8% - all kudos to you. For the 80% (and the missing 12%) maybe this can help.
We have such big dreams, hopes, wishes and desires as we enter the New Year. I say, good on you if you desire to make changes to improve your lifestyle or your way of living, but how can we make it more likely to “stick” this time round?
For those who have given up on making such resolutions because they are sick and tired of being part of the 80% and don’t see the point in bashing their self-esteem, giving fuel to the guilt/blame monster in each of us, hopefully this might inspire you.
New Year’s Resolutions are generally grandiose and if we are being completely honest, ridiculously impossible to meet. Huge changes need to be made: “I’m going to give up eating junk and go full-on healthy eating!”; “I’m going to lose all my excess weight!”; “I’m going to write that novel!” Some of us may be able to go a week or two. Others might find there is something or someone inside them that sabotages all/most attempts from the get-go. Even when I really, really want to make a change there is a little rebellious part of me that pretty much puts hands on hips and says “you can’t make me” – (maybe that’s just me – embarrassing moment #1)
Firstly we need to realize that our Resolutions are TOO big, usually TOO general and TOO vague. What I have learned through my counselling career, and my own personal counselling journey, sometimes (most times) the changes need to be smaller. Instead of going “full-on healthy eating” from day one, maybe start with adding one vegetable or fruit to one daily meal, or maybe start with drinking one extra glass of water (or even one glass of water instead of the coffee/alcohol/fruit juice/soft drink).
When we consider how our bodies and minds respond to big changes in general we become aware of just how true the saying, “we are all creatures of habit”, actually is. If our “habit” has been eating more junk food than healthy food, then to change all of a sudden will be a shock to our system. We may just discover that our binges become bigger and longer; our emotions are wound so tight that any small thing sets us into a meltdown or rage. In the end we give up and add that to our litany of reasons to beat up on ourselves.
Secondly, we need to learn to manage our expectations. Now again this may just be me – so embarrassing moment #2 – but sometimes we expect to see greater returns for our two or three days into the resolution than is humanly possible and so we don’t see the point. Maybe the resolution needs to be seen more in the light of a life change or life re-evaluation. Eating healthier, losing weight, doing exercise might become making healthier choices. So if you manage to say no to the chocolate bar today that’s a healthy choice, if tomorrow that chocolate bar gets devoured then look at other aspects where you may have made a healthy choice (glass of water anyone?) Let’s not beat up on ourselves so much when we fall, have a misstep, or struggle through but rather speak with grace, mercy and love to ourselves “yes maybe I didn’t do so well today and while that makes me feel angry at myself I can start again tomorrow”. The failure is, in not even trying.
Finally, if we are truly wanting to chase/get that big dream, hope, wish or desire then look for someone who can be an accountability partner. This is not a person to whip you into doing whatever is needed but more a person who will encourage you, help you set goals, even mini goals, whether you stumble or not. Sometimes it is better to have someone who is not emotionally invested in you, or you in them, to be your accountability partner whether it be a friend, counsellor, coach, mentor or personal trainer.
Most importantly: whatever your life change/life re-evaluation is make sure it is something you truly dream, hope, wish or desire for yourself – not what you feel society or another person tells you.
Let us know if you make a life change or re-evaluation this New Year by commenting below or if you need an “accountability partner” make an appointment with one of the counsellors at Living Springs Counselling Centre, 9702 6687.
Georgi Watts & Melody Durand
Christmas comes with so many mixed emotions: joy, sadness, loneliness, stress, and anticipation.
How about this year we decide to look outward and not inward at our discontent or distress?
Let's try brightening someone else's day by: -
popping a Christmas card in a neighbours letterbox
making a quick phone call to someone we have not spoken to for ages
choosing to smile and say an encouraging word in each shop we visit. A smile goes such a long way and is often returned (REMEMBER A SMILE COSTS NOTHING TO GIVE BUT MAY BE PRICELESS TO THE RECEIVER).
listening to carols or attending a church service where we can remember 'the Reason for the Season"
this is the perfect time to offer the hand of friendship in a fractured relationship... expecting nothing in return but knowing we have made a small effort to mend the bridge that was broken
maybe check on an elderly neighbour.
Let's be grateful for things we do have, no matter how small, rather than focusing on what others may have.
We may never know the difference it will make in someone's life but be sure it will also warm your soul.
Ask any parent and most children get more screen time than they probably should. For every parent that has learned the hard way to disable in-app purchases, this is for you Jason has 25 years' experience helping others, particularly children, adolescents and families. Using his love of surfing, Jason reminds his clients about the benefits of discovering life away from a screen. There are experiences to enjoy in the real world; with real people.
Here's some ideas for a screen-free afternoon:
1. Kitchen aid: kid-friendly recipes like pizza, biscuits or cake. Allow them to roll out the dough and decorate with favourite toppings. They feel proud of their accomplishment and will eat what comes out of the oven.
2. Gardening: Fresh air, getting the hands and feet dirty is the ideal attraction for children. They can keenly observe their parents working, asking them questions about plants.
3. Outdoor games: Soccer or basketball provide vital skills. A trampoline, frisbees, skateboards, and even fence painting mean children tire themselves out and eat well too.
4. Indoor games: Lego boosts their creativity skills and board games are fun for family bonding. Puzzles, Chess, Monopoly, Scrabble, sock wars are all great choices. Ask Jason about the Blind Potatoes game. Your family will never be the same!
5. Helpers: Children can be great helpers in household chores, such as vacuuming, dusting or sorting the laundry. These chores can be transformed into "fun activities" or pocket money earners for kids.
6. Arts and craft: consult books for ideas. Check your recycling bin for things that can be used for projects. (You could also check pinterest for specific ideas or just putting some playdough, paper, pencils, textas, etc out for them. Maybe you could help the children make their own playdough before they start playing)
7. A side by side activity: For teens, going for a walk, driving in the car or cooking are good activities that can be enjoyed side-by-side instead of intently facing one another. Even helping fix a car or repair something in the garage can provide good opportunities to talk while you are both busy.
8. Read/write a book: Cuddle with a book! Children can be inspired by a book and write or draw their own book.
9. Look at home videos or albums: Children love watching themselves from earlier ages and the whole family can get a good laugh seeing their own videos from yesteryears.
10. Enjoy a bath: Fill up the tub with warm water, pour in coloured bubble bath and their favourite water toys. Play some fun mood music.
Jason Crestani, Psychologist
There are many reasons we feel justified in holding onto a grudge or unforgiveness. Anger may keep difficult emotions away for a time, but it's temporary, and when it's gone an emotional flood may follow.
Keeping a grudge takes a lot of time and emotional energy. Sometimes people fear letting go of it, often because we have rehearsed the hurt or betrayal over and over like a movie. Yes the idea of letting go and moving on can be terrifying. We become all too familiar with our self justified misery. We may feel that the other person does not deserve forgiveness. We may be holding onto that memory to ensure no-one can get close enough again to hurt us like that.
Yet we also deserve the freedom to move on, and by letting go we have the opportunity to embrace the present and the future. We can also use the energy expended on that grudge or resentment to care for ourselves and move forward. It also means the offender cannot keep hurting or controlling our emotional growth. We no longer allow them to chain us to the past keeping us a victim. We become a survivor, we are victorious and by taking that path we can start to heal and grow stronger.
Letting go is not always easy and just like quitting smoking we may need to try several times - but why hold onto thoughts of bitterness, revenge and resentment. Old toxic relationships and keeping open those fresh woulds are not what we deserve. Consider choosing to live life free from the heavy burden of resentment and the toxic effect of unforgiveness.
Every time we let something go free we are also freeing ourselves of the heavy burden of dragging that baggage around that is in turn causing us to be bitter and weary.
You may find it helpful to talk to a counsellor who will partner with you as you take this journey of freedom. Think about it. Let go and begin to build a better tomorrow.
Ref: Debby and Bob Gass: The Word for Today, 2013.
Kristin Armstrong, Work in Progress, 2009.