by Connie Saindon, MA, MFT, CTS

Happy New Year to all! Good-bye for now to the over-eating, over-spending, over-partying and just plain all the over-doing that we traditionally do during the last few weeks of every year. I love the holidays and giving and visiting but I am glad when they are over. I see January as our selfish month and a mirror reflection to the last 6 weeks of the year. We usually spend very little and try to catch the sales to make our next holiday season more economical. Every year I buy outdoor lights, one of these days I'm going to have enough to light up my entire neighborhood. Most of us buy more low fat foods and since many of us still want to eat out, restaurants are increasing their "healthy" selections. January is typically a time to do less visiting, partying, drinking, eating and the relatives have gone home.

This selfish (in the good sense of the word) time is important for getting back on track from this overindulgent period and reviewing our last year. It is a time to take pride in our victories, review our joys along with mourning our regrets and losses in 1996. For some, it may be enough that you got through the year and past the holidays.

Here is the process that I go through as I decide whether or not to make New Year's Resolutions. Whether you decide to commit to specific goals, a review of where you've been and where you want to go may be of value. Perhaps these thoughts will aide your journey into 1997.

Review your last year, divide it into quarters if you like.

Decide what happened that you'd like to continue to have in your life and what would you like to put more distance in.

  • What places did you go that you enjoyed and where did you go that you'll not repeat?
  • What lessons did you learn in 1996?
  • What is one thing that you can do that would significantly change your life for the better if you did it?
  • Whom do you feel closer to and whom do you want to see less often?
  • What was your happiest day of 1996?
  • What did you accomplish this past year at work/school, home and socially?

After reviewing these questions, my goals for 1997 are as follows:

  • Be more cheerful, I've been grumpy for too long, and I don't want to blame menopause anymore.
  • Lose 20 pounds, new program starts now.
  • Get on the Health-Rider for 30 minutes every morning and go to faraway places on the travel channel.
  • Do more of what I enjoy doing.
  • Write more.
  • Spend more time socially, especially with my "adopted" sisters.
  • Grow more Herbs.
  • Make some audio tapes.
  • Research Women's Art in many cultures.
  • Be more forgiving.
  • Tour Nova Scotia.
  • Spend next Christmas and New Years in New Zealand.

To maintain these goals use the following suggestions:

  • Set Realistic Goals, those that are attainable taking in your age and life demands.
  • Acting Surgeon General Audrey F. Manley suggests that we do not become overly ambitious about our exercise goals. She suggests walking briskly for 30 minutes, washing and waxing a car for 45 to 60 minutes (now, that's a dirty car), pushing a stroller 1.5 miles in 30 minutes or swimming laps for 20 minutes.
  • Gayle Veum, R.D. from La Costa Health Spa (after my latest Pamper Day there) suggests the best book for understanding food is *Total Nutrition* from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, authors are Herbert, MD and Subak-Sharpe, MS.
  • Write down your goals. Consider telling someone who is not a nagger or blamer. Ask them to inquire about your progress from time to time.
  • Keep your list in visible sight where you will see it daily at first. Make changes and be flexible as new information is gathered.
  • Make your goals according to your passions and not what other people want you to change.
  • List how these changes will improve your life specifically. For example, when I lose 20 lbs, I will expand my wardrobe as I will be able to wear all those clothes in my closet that shrunk.

Good luck and keep me posted with how you are doing and yes, you can check up on me periodically too.


Connie Saindon, M.A., MFT, has been a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist since 1979. In addition to providing services for Individuals, couples and families, Ms. Saindon is among the few specialists in the field of violent death bereavement. Founder the Survivors of Violent Death Program and volunteer faculty at the University of California Medical School Department of Psychiatry, she is author of The Journey, Violent Death Bereavement: Adult Survivors Workbook and contributing author of Violent Death: Resilience and Intervention beyond the Crisis. To reach her, please see this page.


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