Is this the year you will change?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Changing your life

Time for a life change?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Will anything change for you this year?

Look at that! New Year’s come and gone. Some resolutions have already been abandon. Change is hard, staying the same is easier. Have you ever thought that someday you will make some changes, but time continues on and nothing much changes? You may even have told yourself that you are too old to change, yet all around you others are making changes, small ones, major ones. Some of those people are older than you. Some have illnesses and challenges. And yet they change. Have you asked yourself when will you finally make those changes?

You may see from the blog title, counselorssoapbox Counseling, Therapy, Recovery, and a Happy Life, that I believe in people having a happy life. I believe in wellness and recovery. You can too. Improving your life does not need to be done all at once in huge seismic shifts. That old snowball effect, small changes mounting up, is at work here. Let’s start walking through the process of making life improvements and see where it takes us.

Self-improvement begins with finding out where you are.

Anyone can benefit from a conscious effort to make their life better. You start by looking at where you are and then you decide where you want to go. Don’t get sidetracked into how awful your current life is. View any problems you have as opportunities for improvement.

Some people call this process taking a life inventory. It is important to add to your inventory, not just the marked down and worthless items, but those skills and talents that may take you where you need to go. Make a concerted effort to look for undeveloped talents, those things you said you would do someday that you have not yet tried. One of those yet to be tried activities may be just the thing that has been missing from your life.

Do not rush the inventory process. If you sketch out a house on the back of a napkin you could rush out, buy materials, and start building. It is better to have a good blueprint. This keeps you from having to tear down your house because you forgot the foundation or a way to install electrical and plumbing.

Put your life improvement plan down in writing.

Some time back, a few decades ago, I started working on a written Happy Emotional Life Plan (H.E.L.P.) I carry this around in a loose-leaf binder. This plan is one section in the binder that includes sections for the classes I teach and my other important life activities. I look at this plan periodically, about once per week. It reminds me of where I have been and where I am going. It is surprising many years, when I get to the end of the year, how far I have come.

Along the way, I discovered that a WRAP plan (Wellness and Recovery Action Plan) was a part of the things I needed to work on. Staying emotionally healthy is a prerequisite for me if I want to reach my goals. But my H.E.L.P. plan includes a bunch of other things also.

You do not need to be lost to check a road map.

Having a Happy Emotional Life Plan does not require you to believe there is something wrong with you. Take a look at the post “Why do successful people have coaches” for more on the way in which anyone can use some help in reaching their life goals.

No matter how difficult or awful the place you are in you can still benefit from doing some things to make your life a better place.

It is not just where you are going but how you wish to travel that matters.

Part of creating a life change plan, one that will make your life what you want it to be, is getting clear on your values. Values clarification should always come before setting goals. If a goal for you is having more money, why do you want that and what are you willing to do or not do to get there.

Don’t try to visit all the countries in Europe in one week.

A common error in trying to improve your life is to try to tackle too many goals at once. People in early recovery from mental illness, substance use, disintegrating relationships and so on often make the mistake of trying to fix all their problems the first week.

You may decide you would like a more abundant life so you take a job working forty plus hours a week. Then you see the need for more education so you enroll in school as a full-time student. Some love in your life would make things better so you begin dating and start a new relationship. All that gets done in the first week of the year. What will you do for the second week?

Trying to make too many changes at once reduces the chances of success. Start by making a few small changes and practice them over and over until those new habits become automatic.

Start any self-improvement plan with a few selected goals and as you make progress towards those goals you can add more to the list.

Plans for self-improvement are life maps for a journey.

It is easier to say you want to be healthy. Taking action on that goal is more difficult. Break those goals you have set up into small steps. Take one step at a time and see how far you can travel. Include periodic reviews for your goals and progress as part of a life plan review.

Sometimes it helps to consult a travel adviser or guide.

If your life plan includes some serious renovations consider getting some professional help. A career counselor can help you look for the new job you want. If you have emotional or relationship issues you need to work on, then a counselor or therapist can help.

Throughout this year we will revisit this theme of transforming your life into the one you would like to have and how you can navigate this process of change.

How are you wanting to change yourself and the life you live?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

12 ways to Sabotage New Year’s resolutions

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

the future

Living the Future
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

There are hundreds of articles out there about how to keep New Year’s resolutions. This isn’t one of them. This is about getting out of the ones you already made.

Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions, we feel we have to. But then the next morning we wish we had never said that. Here are some easy ways to make sure that your New Year’s resolution ends up in the dust and ensure that no one blames you for not living up to your promises.

1. Set huge impossible large goals. Despite not exercising for the last  60 years or so and having given up my photograph efforts in the late 1970s, this year I plan to make a film chronicling my success at winning twelve different gold medals in sports I had not previously played. Who could blame me for not keeping that one? The key here is to not plan to do anything, just plan to somehow have achieved the goal without effort.

2. Do not write down your goals or tell anyone. Writing things down leaves evidence. You might be tempted to look at your goals during the year. If you can’t remember what you planned to do how can it be your fault? Telling someone only expands the conspiracy. If you don’t tell, they won’t ask. People who blab their resolutions fell obliged to work on them.

3. Hang out with the losers. If you hang out with successful people you might emulate them. Want to avoid weight loss? Hang out at the donut shop or a buffet; better yet look up a donut buffet.

4. Resolve to change someone else. This is a favorite one that works every time. Plan to change your children or your spouse. Who could blame you if your family does not change? It was certainly your ex’s fault or maybe the fault of those rotten kids, wherever they are these days.

5. Embrace boredom. If it is fun don’t do it. Make resolutions to do boring, painful things not something you might actually get to like if you tried it. Nothing will squash a resolution faster than a good reason to avoid it in the first place.

6. Bet the farm on this one. If you are going to not do something, don’t do something big. Make your resolution so huge that your family might end up homeless if you did not carry through. Who could argue with you giving up your dream for the safety of your family? Doing a series of small things might actually be doable and then you would be stuck with a string of successes. Nothing ends your streak of failures like a small unsuspected success.

7. Test yourself constantly. This works well for alcoholics, who test themselves by buying alcohol and hanging out in bars. If your resolution had to do with food, go shopping and fill the house with your favorite foods. Then check the cupboard or the fridge often just to reassure yourself you have not eaten them – yet. Test yourself often enough you are sure to fail.

8. Don’t worry about being emotional. Watch sad movies and cry. Pick lots of fights. Argue with everyone you can. After an emotional day like that, you are sure to not have the energy needed to work on any stupid resolution. Happiness is incompatible with failure. Laughter can ruin a well thought out sorry-for-yourself binge. Stay moody.

9. Stop sleeping. Stay up all night every night and then sleep all day. Worry about your exercise plan, make a list of things you can’t buy. Lack of sleep will make you irrational but who can blame a half-crazed person for shopping online all night.

10. Give up all friends. Nothing so ensures your failure at resolutions as being totally isolated from all human contact. Quit your job, fight with your spouse till they leave, and hang up on your friends. People who are all alone should not be expected to be a success at anything, right?

11. Don’t eat. Being really eat-a-bear hungry can make you grouchy enough to not only stop trying but to be able to tell anyone still talking to you to put that resolution where the moonshine doesn’t- whatever.

12. If you tried before and failed don’t try again. Some people keep trying. If they keep that up they risk an eventual success. Smokers have an edge here. Most need to try to quit five to seven times so they get to talk about their try’s three or four times before giving up. Be careful though if you try too many times you might just end up making that change.

Well, I hope that this was helpful to all of you who are trying to avoid carrying through on your New Year’s resolutions. You could use this at other times of the year for any other change you are avoiding. Despite all my good advice some of you will try to make and keep New Year’s resolutions. Those of you who are successful will probably have passed through the series of steps we call “Stages of Change.” I see some of my former students smiling at that. They knew I couldn’t slip by mentioning the “Stages of Change.”

Spoiler alert – In a future blog I plan to write about how it is that people who attempt changes really do go about doing it successfully. Some of you are anticipating me and are inferring that real change rarely comes from one time resolutions and may involve a series of steps which we counselors like to term “Stages of Change.” If you prefer making resolutions and then not keeping them, avoid those blog posts.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel