By Tina B. Tessina, PhD
Happy New Year! Every New Year feels like a new beginning. The sun, at its furthest point at Winter Solstice, has begun its annual swing closer to Earth, you change your calendar, and we all feel the renewal of the fresh, new year. With this sense of renewal, all of us are energized, and itís natural to feel that itís a great time to begin new traditions, and change old habits. Add that to the feeling that we indulged too much while celebrating over the holidays, and we have the perfect setup to make new yearís resolutions.
New Year's resolutions are about beginning fresh, and correcting past problems, so the impetus to do them as the year begins anew makes sense. However, it's a lot easier said than done. If the resolution is made with real motivation behind it, it will likely succeed, no matter when it's begun. But, if you're just making resolutions because everyone else is, or you believe you should do it, and you havenít thought it through, youíre liable to find that you lack motivation and energy to follow through. If you make the resolution easy to accomplish, you'll have more successes to celebrate and you'll be able to appreciate your accomplishment.
Instead of following that same old cycle, and setting yourself up for disappointment one more time, you can follow my simple plan for replacing disappointment with anticipation. Setting yourself up for anticipation instead of defeat, makes your new year a lot easier.
Try replacing the old resolution habit with a new a habit of daily anticipation with the following method:
Daily Anticipation: Either in the evening or the morning, take fifteen to twenty minutes to sit down with your calendar and think about the day to come. Consider your to-do list, your appointments (whatever kind of appointments you have: with a business associate, a customer, your dentist, to take your child to soccer or ballet, or lunch with a friend) and whatever you personally would like to accomplish (for example: gardening, cooking dinner, making a speech, getting a new client, writing your novel, working out, winning at a sport, meditating or praying, creating art or music, or visiting a friend). If your list is more than you can possibly get done in one day, sort through it now, instead of waiting until the end of the day to find you didnít accomplish the most important things. Prioritize what you have to do, and whatever youíre not going to get to today, put on your to-do list for tomorrow or next week.
Look at your calendar and schedule as realistically as you can. For example, if you are taking your daughter to ballet class, or your son to football practice, consider that it might be important to allow enough time for the two of you to talk. If the client you have to see is long-winded or habitually late, take that into consideration. If you are extra tired, consider not packing your day as full as usual.
On the other hand, if your calendar is not full enough, if you have a tendency to go to work and then come home with no idea of what youíll do for the evening, then give some thought to scheduling some of that unused time: For example, volunteering to help somewhere; inviting a friend to dinner, participating in a sport, joining the church choir, or taking a class. You can even decide to get intentional about relaxing, rather than letting the TV or the computer absorb time meaninglessly.
In this way you can take charge of your day, and make sure that, within the limits of your real situation, you do the things that are most important to you. The few minutes you take at the beginning of your day to organize it can save you hours later. If you focus on planning each day, you will make steady progress toward attaining your future goals, and creating a truly Happy New Year!
I wish you a new year filled with every good thing.
© 2005 Tina (from It Ends With You)
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (www.tinatessina.com) is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 25 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 11 books, including "It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction" (New Page 2003)""How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free" (New Page 2002) "The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again" (Wiley 2002) and "The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs" (New Page 2001) She publishes the "Happiness Tips from Tina" e-mail newsletter and has hosted "The Psyche Deli: delectable tidbits for the subconscious" a weekly hour long radio show. She is an online expert, answering relationship questions at www.CouplesCompany.com and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Institute expert and "Psychology Smarts" columnist for First for Women. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and on such TV shows as "Oprah", "Larry King Live" and ABC news.