woman on a bicycle riding through a field of bright yellow flowers with a small puppy in the bicycle's basket
Image by Frauke Riether 

In approaching resolutions, it's beneficial to step back and reflect on what you've learned and accomplished during the previous year. Be sure to keep looking until you come up with something you are proud of.

With that in mind, it's easier to set some goals for the coming year. The idea is to shift your attention away from your shortcomings, bad decisions, and less than stellar behaviors, and just focus on making yourself more to your liking. Your ambitions don't have to be earthshaking but should reflect how you'd like to grow towards your potential.

For me, it's asking myself, "What will bring me more joy, love, and peace this year?" I pose this question because happiness and personal fulfillment revolve around these three emotions. Joy, love, and peace are also the opposite of our other three emotions -- sadness, anger, and fear.

Ten Possible Intentions

Here are some suggestions for ways to create the coming year as one to remember. I've also noted what emotion each enlivens.

1.Lavish praise on yourself for what you do and who you are. (Joy)

This combats the tendency to compare oneself to the wonderful things others may know, have, or accomplish. Praise can take the form of appreciating yourself at the end of the day or whenever you notice you’re subtly, or not so subtly, belittling yourself.

innerself subscribe graphic

2. Vigilantly combat your negative judgments of others by looking for the positive. (Love)

Find something good in what others wear, say, or do. There must be some positive thing you can substitute to counter your trashy thinking. The goal is to find our commonality, not to accentuate our differences.

3. Voice an appreciation in every interaction. (Love)

This is a corollary to number two. Saying something positive isn't being a Pollyanna but merely an opportunity to uplift yourself and others. It feels good to be the sender as well as being the recipient. Giving voice to what you appreciate is an exercise to build positivity and good will.

4. Don't offer unsolicited advice. (Love)

When not requested, sharing your "wisdom" is rarely received as you intended. I've learned (but sometimes forget) that I must ask for and receive permission before imparting my views on others about their situation. When I don’t, my sage advice lands with a thud since I'm out of my own territory.

5.Procrastinate less. (Peace and joy)

If you are called to do something or assume a responsibility, then just do it. You’ll waste less time and energy. If there is a call to make, pick up the phone. It won't get any easier tomorrow.

6.Speak up when it matters. (Joy)

Being passive and letting situations unfold in ways that don't resonate or feel productive will eventually leave you feeling angry and or sad. When we don't chime in, it’s easy to withdraw from the interaction. If speaking up is difficult, just gulp and take the leap. You can always preface what you say with "This is hard for me and …"

7. Set modest guidelines for exercise and eating. (Joy)

It is a proven fact that eating good food and moving the body increases health and feelings of well being. Maybe just limit the amount of coffee, wine, ice cream, chocolate, or fast food you eat. Try making it a priority to go for a walk at least every other day.

8. Live in the present. (Peace)

This could take the form of daily meditation, being in nature, playing with your dog, or just spending less time in your head. The more time you stay out of the past and the future, the more you feel grateful and in awe for what's in front of you right now.

9. Check-in with your intuition. (Joy and Peace)

When uncertain about a given course of action, pause, breathe, and ask within (not your mind) what you know is best. This strategy can be used whether it is accepting an invitation for a social activity, taking a job offer, leaving a relationship, or finding a new living situation. No matter how large or small the question, answers from within, rather than our “should”, hold us in good stead.

10. Forgive transgressors. (Peace, Love, and Joy)

If someone has wronged you, deal with your sadness, anger, and/or fear. Then seek to truly walk in their shoes and remember we are all just doing our best. Look for your part and your lessons. After you do your inner work, determine what if anything you need to do to fully resolve the issue at hand and if so, do it. See if you can make it all the way back to love.

A Focused Approach to Change

Instead of a smorgasbord approach to change, I suggest you pick one or two things and put your energy into those goals. It's easier to stay focused on them, rather than overwhelm yourself with too many good intentions.

I suggest you write your goals on paper or your favorite electronic device and on the first day of each month, review and remind yourself of them. Focusing on a couple of gems throughout the year will help brighten your days and keep you moving in your desired direction. And don’t forget to praise yourself for all your little steps.

©2023 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author:

Attitude Reconstruction

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

book cover: Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life  by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.With practical tools and real-life examples, this book can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with joy, love, and peace. Jude Bijou's comprehensive blueprint will teach you to: ? cope with family members' unsolicited advice, cure indecision with your intuition, deal with fear by expressing it physically, create closeness by truly talking and listening, improve your social life, increase staff morale in just five minutes a day, handle sarcasm by visualizing it flying by, carve out more time for yourself by clarifying your priorities, ask for a raise and get it, stop fighting via two easy steps, cure kids' tantrums constructively. You can integrate Attitude Reconstruction into your daily routine, regardless of your spiritual path, cultural background, age, or education.

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of: Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT)

Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.

In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education.

Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/