At no other time of the year do so many people think about personal growth
all at the same time. Fifty percent of Americans make resolutions to improve
themselves or their lives in some way during the yearly transition. There is an
overwhelming perception that change is possible. The hope for something new,
different and better in their lives is higher than at any other time of the
This tradition of celebrating the New Year goes back at least 4000 years to
the ancient Babylonians who celebrated it during Spring equinox. The tradition
of making New Year’s resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.
With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future.
Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions.
Have you been swept away in this wave of
positive intentions and made your New Year’s resolutions yet? If not, here is a
list of what other people resolve to do. This may just spark your
introspective self to aspire to new heights. Of the 10 most popular New Year’s goals, four involve physical health related issues, three involve
mental health, two involve social activity and one deals with financial
improvements. Here are the top ten:
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Work out regularly
- Lose weight
- Quit smoking
- Enjoy life more
- Quit or reduce drinking
- Get out of debt
- Learn something new
- Help others
- Get organized
Research shows that 60% of these resolutions will be
broken as of the 6-month mark. The most important factor in preserving the
change is in the process of goal planning and writing.
The most comprehensive assistance for
writing effective resolutions comes from Gary Ryan Blair, “The Goals Guy.” On his site, you are able to download a free
21-page report which details the five stages of successful resolutions, taken
from the psychology of behavior modification, and also lists four important
resolution guidelines. Gary
also provides forms to guide you through the process.
If you don’t want to spend that much time
with it, I suggest that you at least use the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines in writing your resolutions. These
traditional goal-writing guidelines are used to insure that your goals are
specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.
- Feel and
- Express your goal.
Whereas S.M.A.R.T. goals may appeal more to the analytical left-brain
dominant types, S.A.F.E goals may appeal more to those who are generally more creative
or right-brain dominant.
Once you have your goals written, check out
these seven recommendations from two University of Maryland psychiatrists
on how to maintain your resolutions.
If you need free online assistance to reach your goals, check out this impressive collection of web application tools at the
website lifehacker, specifically designed to help you manage your New Year’s
resolutions online including the goal areas of financial gain, weight loss and
fitness, calorie management and goal tracking.
And finally, here are some suggestions to stretch those of you who live more from your heads than your hearts. Inspirational personal development expert James
Arthur Ray , featured on the movie, The Secret, gives
the following five suggestions for self-actualizing yourself in 2008.
- Find inspiration and something you are excited about.
- Specify your intentions. Use the S.M.A.R.T. or S.A.F.E. goal
- Maintain attention and focus. “Energy flows where attention goes.”
- Be grateful. See www.gratefulness.org for more information.
- Be enthusiastic! Go three for three by aligning your thoughts with your feelings with your actions.
Happy New Year!
David Schiesher is a psychotherapist practicing in Geneva.
For therapy to be
effective, you need a really good to great relationship with your therapist. The
therapeutic relationship is one of the most curative factors in psychotherapy.
The father of modern American psychotherapy, Carl Rogers, based his work on
this principle. In his classic book, On
Becoming a Person, he explains that therapists must be genuine, have
empathetic understanding and unconditional positive regard for the client. When
these three conditions are met, therapy has the best chance for success.
Dr. Wu’s Healing Art – Peach
You know that feeling
when you’re in the presence of someone with whom you can just let your hair
down? With whom you don’t have to be at your best? With whom you can just be
yourself? With whom you can show all your imperfections and be accepted and
appreciated all the same? That’s the feeling that you want to have when you’re talking
with your therapist.
How do you find such a
healing relationship? Well, how would you find a new friend? Talk to a number of therapists, just call them
on the telephone, until you find one where you are saying to yourself, “I
really like this person.” Of course it would be prudent to also ask them about
their professional experience, training and therapeutic methods. But go with
your intuition on this one. It’s not uncommon for someone to try one or two
before finding the right one.
English-speaking therapists in Geneva,
take a look at these on-line directories: AngloInfo; Counseling in France; XpatXchange. Also, the American
International Women’s Club magazine, Courier, has a good selection of
therapists in the Petites Annonces section.
David Schiesher is a psychotherapist in private practice in Geneva.
procrastinate forever with this decision. They think it will cost too much or take
too long or
be too painful or too scary. Many people think that they can handle
the stress, sadness or anxiety by themselves. Let’s look at each of these
‘Healing Weight’ by Daniel Minter
The cost for 60 minutes of therapy
in Geneva varies anywhere from CHF85 to about
CHF160. The average is somewhere around CHF120-130. Your health insurance
will usually reimburse a portion of the fee. I’ll write more about health insurance in a
future post. Many therapists offer a free telephone consultation or a free
first session to answer your initial questions.
The number of sessions
needed varies considerably depending on the issues which you bring and the
degree of resolution or relief from symptoms that you desire. It’s important to
remember that you are the consumer of the service and you are in control of the
number of sessions you purchase. Some therapists ask you to commit to a certain
number of sessions. Other therapists leave it totally up to you to judge when
you are feeling better and no longer need professional support. Brief therapies
can be anywhere from four to twenty sessions. Classical psychoanalysis can last
from one to five years. I’ll write more about types of therapy in a future post.
Many people can handle
the everyday stresses and disappointments on their own or with the support of
family and friends. Others don’t feel comfortable sharing personal struggles. Self-help
books and resources on the web can also be of assistance as long as you find reputable
sources. Look for resources that originate from universities or therapy
Yes, dealing with and
resolving problems in your life can be scary and painful. Living with these
problems can often be worse. Working on the issues with someone who’s there to
support you or help you find solutions makes the journey easier and more enjoyable.
David Schiesher is a psychotherapist in private practice in Geneva.