Attitude adjustments: Advice on setting realistic resolutions

January 2017 Posted in Other

By Nancy Jennings

Out with the old, bad habits and in with the new, healthy habits. Thr thought is common every year as we make New Year’s resolutions.

This year will be different, we promise ourselves. This will be the year I drop 25 pounds, quit smoking and begin exercising … or any of the other items on the long lists of promises we intend to keep to make us happier and healthier. But will it really?

Silverton Clinical Psychologist Beverly Nicholson said this annual practice of wishful thinking comes down to “the way we are wired.”

“Whenever we come to the ending of something, like the ending of a year, we think about what we want to do differently,” she said.

“We are people who like new stimulation. Even when we achieve a goal, after awhile it becomes kind of ho-hum and we think ‘what else is out there?’”

Nicholson said a positive attitude is the first step to make necessary changes.

“The first thing is you have to believe it’s possible. So many people think if only I had more money, or more schooling or relocate(d),” Nicholson said. “They put up roadblocks right off the bat. If you do that, of course, you’re programming yourself to not succeed in making the changes.”

She said it’s important not to get discouraged when inevitable barriers show up and seem to block progress toward goals. The key is finding ways around road blocks to get back on the path toward your goals.

“Sometimes these bad things can be guiding you in a path to a very good thing,” Nicholson said. “Often times, that’s the case, if we’re looking for it and open to it.”

Nicholson said people need to identify what they are really passionate about or what makes them excited to start their day.

“If you do what you love doing and you’re excited about it, you create an energy around that that invites support in ways you never could have imagined,” Nicholson said. “You have to be open to all possibilities. Look at the other options.”

Silverton LCSW Nancy Ferrell said she doesn’t believe New Year’s resolutions work. Instead, she views them as a superficial practice.

“They are not congruent with who we are as individuals,” Ferrell said.

She prefers the term “intentional living” as the life goal of “living out our values and passions. First, we have to know what these are, then we can use them as kind of a compass.”

“I recommend finding quiet time on New Year’s Eve day and look back at the year that’s ending and do an inventory. Ask yourself, ‘What do I feel good about and what would I do differently?’”

She said the first thing you have to understand is who you are inside. “Not who other people want you to be, who you think you should be, but who you really are and what is really important.”

Tips for change
Take baby steps. Go gradually.
Gather information and do research.
Network and share or compare
your stories with others.
Remember change takes time.
Be patient. Don’t quit.

The realities of life have their own way of showing us how to prioritize what is most important, Ferrell said, who has worked with cancer survivors.

“There’s something about facing one’s mortality that helps people really cut through all of the surface stuff we get caught up with. The question then becomes how do I really want to use whatever time I have left?”

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