Here is January’s installment of “Ask Shelby” with Chester County’s own Marriage and Family Therapist, Shelby Riley:
What do you think of New Year’s Resolutions?
Signed, Thinking of Making a Change in 2010
Dear Thinking of Making a Change in 2010,
I was at a New Year’s party with several other families and someone was asking the kids about their resolutions. A six year old asked, “What’s a resolution?” The eight-year-old replied, “It’s usually something you don’t like about yourself that you want to change.” Sad. But often, true.
This year, I would like for you, instead, to consider what you’d like to see for yourself. Don’t think about things you hate and want to change, but rather think about what you want to include in your life this year. Think about the most important aspects of your life: your children, your spouse, your career, your friendships, your self. Then, spend some time reflecting on what you’d like to see in each part of your life.
For your career, I encourage you to review your goals, plans, and hopes for your professional life. Reflect on what areas of your career might be worth more time and attention. Think about pruning, too. Are there any parts of your professional life or practices you have set up that you might do better to get rid of? Set some long term goals, some goals for this year, and some short-term goals for the next few months.
For your relationships, spend some time thinking about what aspects of them you enjoy most. How do you give to the people in your life, how do you share yourself in ways that matter, and what would you like to see happen in each relationship this year? Note some concrete, practical things you can do to make those hopes come to fruition.
Finally, and most importantly, think about you. Instead of the typical “lose 10 pounds” and “organize my closets,” think about how you’d like to take care of yourself this year. Again, identify some important categories: physical health, emotional well-being, spiritual growth, etc. Then note how you can take care of yourself in each of these areas. You may decide to exercise as a way to care for your physical health (not as a punishment for not fitting into your skinny-jeans!) You might decide to carve out time for reading or sewing as a way to care for yourself. Make some clear plans for a variety of ways you can focus on nurturing yourself.
You can’t address each of these areas 100% every day. I used to do that—on Jan 1, I would wake early, floss my teeth, go for a run, chop up a bunch of fruit, play monopoly with my son, plan a date with my husband, work on a marketing campaign for my practice, read a poem and write out two “thinking of you” cards to friends. Phew! By Jan 2, I knew I couldn’t keep up, and invariably, I’d give up. A balanced approach is a much better (and easier, and WAY more successful) approach. Daily, plan to pay attention to one or two of your “most important aspects”, doing one or two small things in each (ideally, I’d love to see at least one thing each day in the “you” aspect!). Weekly, make sure you’ve done at least one thing to address each of your “most important aspects.” If you can keep that up, knowing it won’t be a perfect balance, but an assessing-tweaking-reassessing process, I think you’ll find you have more of what you want and more of what you need in 2010. Enjoy!
**Remember to check out Shelby’s website, Family Help Today, for a variety of useful information for couples, individuals, families, and kids. You can also find out more about Shelby’s AWESOME e-books on her site.