Focus, accountability, persistence ILLUSTRATION: Tim Furey

Focus, accountability, persistence

It takes work to create the life you really want

By Patti Carmalt-Vener 01/05/2012

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Dear Patti, 
I count myself as a little different from most people who rush headlong every New Year’s into ambitious promises to drop addictive habits, pursue physical fitness regimens, stick to a budget, improve their relationships or change careers. These are the same people whose commitments to better themselves always seem to fizzle out by the end of February, leaving them to feel unfulfilled and frustrated. From what I’ve read, the abandonment of resolutions has a lot to do with distractions, unrealistic goals and the lack of a clear vision upfront on what they really want to accomplish. I’m not that way. 
 
For years now, I’ve planned out and written statements of intent about resolutions that are specific, practical and contain measurable goals. I’ve consistently followed through with an actionable plan, rewards for small achievements to keep me on track and a steadfast visualization of what life will be like when my objectives are reached. Focus, accountability and persistence have enabled me to say that I really did keep my New Year’s resolutions. 
 
Why, then, don’t I feel a sense of hope, excitement, a desire to make life better or a chance for renewal? I’m not depressed, but I also just don’t know as 2012 rolls in what would make me truly happy to commit to. — Jimmy

Dear Jimmy,
I think you have a valid point that much of the focus on New Year’s resolutions is in keeping them going rather than creating meaningful, introspective goals to begin with that will support an individual’s desire to deeply change his/her life. 
In your case, it’s clear that you’re entirely capable of seeing personal quests and their associated tasks through to completion. 
Let’s take this one step further. What New Year’s resolutions could you create that would make you happy? 
 
After reading each of the following series of questions, ask yourself what type of resolution would best match your answers.

TRUE NATURE: Who or what really inspires you? Who do you want to be? What elements define who “you” are? How would you like to be remembered? What were you grateful for today? What are some of your proudest achievements and moments? When did you last feel truly at peace? What’s missing in your life? Who do you envy? Where do you imagine yourself in the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

PASSIONS: Where do you want to travel next? What do you read, watch or listen to for fun? What would you love to buy? How would you define your dream job? What’s your biggest indulgence? What political issues interest you? What kind of life would make you the most joyful?

RELATIONSHIPS: Who do you want to be around? Who are your role models and heroes? Who’s your best friend? Whose best friend are you? Who are you closest to in your family? Whose presence makes you feel happy, content and loved?

Once you’ve looked these questions over, go someplace where you’ll be uninterrupted. Sit quietly, get comfortable, close your eyes, breathe slowly and gently and allow yourself to completely relax. Let all the tension leave your body. Listen to the inner awareness that will guide you in understanding yourself, your sense of purpose and your true nature. Be receptive to what your wise self really knows deep inside and what it’s trying to communicate to you. Think about what would make you totally happy. 
If you have a chance to experience a life that’s true to who you really are, what would that life look like? Pick resolutions that reflect your answers to these questions and which fill you with strong, positive feelings about the significant changes you want to make in the coming year.
 
Deeply love yourself, respect your dreams and live your life on your own terms. By using your intelligence and creativity, you’ll begin to see an inner picture of the existence that will make you content. Let your imagination flow and see in your mind the end result of your goals and how that makes you feel. Allow your heart to dream. Don’t ever discard your desire for the life you really want.
Here’s to a wonderful new year and a fresh beginning!
Happy New Year!

Patti Carmalt-Vener, a faculty member with the Southern California Society for Intensive Short Term Psychotherapy, has been a psychotherapist in private practice for 23 years and has offices in Pasadena, Santa Monica and Canoga Park. Contact her at (626) 584-8582 or email pcarmalt@aol.com. Visit her Web site: patticarmalt-vener.com.

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