Psychologist Matthew Ryan. Photo courtesy of Family Medical Practice
It is not too late to plan your New Year’s resolutions especially as Tết (Lunar New Year) is still approaching.
Last year my partner and I put two whole days aside to enter into a deep reflection on what we wanted to accomplish together and also as separate human beings in the new year.
The reason for deliberately carving out such a long time of preparation was our understanding that New Year’s resolutions as a general rule fall apart very soon after the beginning of the new year.
In fact, there have been many research studies conducted on this practice of making New Year’s resolutions and it seems that only about 8 per cent of them are ever successful in the long term.
Gym instructors have told me that there is always a huge influx of new members in January, but by February or March, there are very noticeably fewer new members working out regularly.
If you don’t give sufficient thought and time to making resolutions they will inevitably fail and this can cause all sorts of negative feelings such as self-disappointment, hopelessness regarding the possibility of change and a feeling of being out of control and directionless, to name a few.
So my partner and I put two days aside. You may not have the luxury of that amount of time or stamina but the point is you will be more than likely one of the 92 per cent who fail to implement their New Year’s resolutions if you don’t set aside some period of time of preparing.
I will outline my approach below.
First step: Meditation/reflection
If you immediately go into planning mode your ideas will most probably be warped by your anxieties and past regrets or experiences. Spend about 20 minutes meditating to clear your mind. By doing this you are also connecting with your inner wisdom and creativity.
Second step: Discovering your core values
After meditating, you now transfer your focus to the contemplation of your core values.
What are core values? Core values are the deepest guiding principles for your life - what you want to stand for; what you hope others see and appreciate about you. You know you have discovered a core value when you feel very excited or enthusiastic about some particular characteristic like standing up for the truth, the love of family and friends or the call of adventure and discovery.
So I invite you now to sit down and discover your own core values. Three to five core values are enough.
So ask yourself what activities bring you the most joy or what couldn’t you live without; what things/pursuits give your life meaning and purpose. The first two steps together provide a powerful meditative and inspirational foundation from which to now choose and develop action plans for your New Year’s resolutions.
Third step: Goals that express your core values
Having identified your core values or deep loves, you are now ready to select concrete goals that will ensure that the pregnant energy within your core values can flow into each goal you select.
So look at each of your core values and ask how you can practically bring into your life the energy of these values. Understandably, as a psychologist, one of my core values is the building of loving relationships.
So the practical question for me was, ‘How can I in the new year build deeper, more loving relationships?’
I divided my relationships into four main categories:
1. The intimate relationship with my partner.
2. The loving relationship with my children.
3. My close friendships.
4. My professional relationship with my clients.
So now I need to focus on the goal I have for each of these four categories.
Fourth step: Developing action plans to achieve chosen goals
Now that you have chosen goals that are the concrete expressions of your core values, you now need to devise detailed action plans that will help you as much as possible to achieve your goals. So I will continue to demonstrate this next step by developing an action plan for nourishing my intimate relationship with my partner. You need to develop action plans for each of the goals that you have chosen.
Good luck planning and keeping your New Year's resolutions! – Family Medical Practice
*Matthew Ryan is a senior psychologist who has been supporting and assisting people to work through their personal and relational problems, for more than 30 years. As a couple's and family psychologist, Matthew’s role is to help each person in the relationship see how they contribute to their dysfunctional ways of relating and what changes are necessary to resolve their difficulties. Matthew is also experienced in working with teenage males and females as they face the challenges of stepping into young adulthood. In addition, Matthew is experienced in providing counselling to people from the LGBT community.
Family Medical Practice was the first foreign-owned primary healthcare provider in Việt Nam, and has consistently remained at the forefront of international-standard medicine since 1995. It offers extensive healthcare and emergency medical services nationwide to Vietnamese, expatriate and corporate customers.
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