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January 2017 Goal Check-In

Posted on January 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

It's been a week since you set goals for the new year. How is it going so far?


Do you find yourself as excited as you were when you first decided what you wanted to achieve? Or is your interest already starting to wane?


Don't give up! Take it a day at a time and just keep going. Revise your goals as needed, and set yourself up for success.


Remember: set SMART goals.


Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Time-bound

Welcome, 2017!

Posted on January 3, 2017 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The new year is here! Welcome, 2017! Many are excited for you to make your entrance. I have heard and read many people say they are glad to see the back of 2016. It was quite a year, both positively and negatively, depending on your perspective and personal experiences.


A fresh, new year is a great time to start on new goals or make progress on old ones.


The SMART system of goal-setting can be a helpful way to increase your success at goal-meeting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.


Specific: Ask yourself questions such as

Who is doing this? (Presumably, you)

What do I want to accomplish?

Where will this happen?

When will it happen?

How will it happen?

Why is it important? (Benefits, purpose, or reason for accomplishment of said goal)


Some of these questions also address the other elements of SMART, which is okay, and just means you are a little ahead of the game.


Measurable: How will you know when you get there? How much or how many is/are required? Setting target dates or small milestones, in addition to a big finish, can give you boosts of satisfaction along the way and help you stay on track.


Attainable: Is it possible for you to achieve this goal? Is this goal about yourself? It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make someone else responsible for meeting your goal. They don't have nearly the attachment to it or control over it that you do.


Realistic: Is this goal something you are willing and able to work for? Your goal should stretch and motivate you, but not overwhelm you. An unrealistic goal sets you up for failure instead of success, and when you don't achieve what you wanted to, your self image takes a hit, often causing you to feel lower than you did before you started. Take care to accurately assess your commitment to your goal.


Time-bound: What is your time frame for accomplishment of this goal? When do you aim to be finished? "Someday" is unlikely to be a strong enough motivator to help you meet your goals. A deadline helps you narrow your focus and adds a sense of urgency to the mix, meaning that you are more likely to reach your goal!


Some sample goals:


Vague: I will get in shape.

SMART: I will join a gym and work out four days a week to lose 10 pounds by April 1st.


Vague: I will increase my business contacts.

SMART: I will attend two networking events per month, follow up with the people I meet there within one week of the event, and continue to build relationships with them by contacting them once a month.


Vague: I'm going to be a better person.

SMART: I will volunteer at the animal shelter for two Saturdays a month, and speak kindly to the people I meet there refraining from making snarky comments that hurt people's feelings.

Five Benefits of Counseling

Posted on August 18, 2015 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

You've had some issues come up for you recently. Maybe they are things you haven't thought about in a long time, or maybe they pop into your mind a lot. But, you're tired of living this way. You're tired of thinking this way. Something has to change. You are thinking about talking to someone. You feel like you have worn your friends out on this stuff already and don't want to be a "Debbie Downer." Or you have kept it all inside because you don't think anyone will understand. This is a time when talking to a counselor may be helpful, but you wonder what the benefits of counseling are.


Below are several benefits of counseling. This is not an exhaustive list.


Confidentiality. When you talk to a counselor, your conversation remains confidential. While there are certain exceptions to this (a main one being threat of suicide), it is rare that a counselor must break confidentiality, and in that case it is for your safety. Behind this closed door you can feel free to share whatever is on your mind, whatever is bothering you. This is a safe place.


No Judgment. Your counselor will listen to you without judging you. I find that clients are often concerned about what I will think of something they have done or something that happened to them. It's safe to share even those things you don't want to tell anyone about. Counselors have heard many, many stories and situations, and are used to surprises from clients. Sometimes it takes a client months to decide they feel safe enough to share, but when they do, they find it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be.


Active Listening. Your counselor is actively listening to what you say. They are paying attention to you and processing what you tell them. This is so they can validate your feelings, or even help you name feelings you weren't sure of or aware of. This also helps your counselor make connections in your story, pointing out patterns and themes in the narrative of your life that can give you insights and raise your awareness. Some clients have told me that a counseling session is the first time they felt like anyone was listening to them.


Non-biased feedback. Your counselor can help you draw conclusions from and make connections in your story. They can help you see another perspective and consider how others involved may have felt in the same situation. They can also offer challenges to your own behavior that help you gain insight into how you might handle things differently next time. Because the counselor is not emotionally involved in your story, they are able to see things through a different lens, not colored by any one person's point of view.


Feel Better. It can feel so good to talk something out. Sometimes just hearing yourself say it out loud is enough to process it. Other times it's nice to have someone else agree with you or challenge you. When you work through the issue you are dealing with, a weight lifts off your shoulders. You begin to understand more about yourself and others. You clean out wounds from the past that are festering and throw off problems that are holding you back.


The point of living life is to move forward. We frequently (constantly?) encounter obstacles that impede our forward momentum, but we still have to go on. Often we may have to stop and tend to wounds before this can happen. How can you run with an infection? You can't. At least, not very well. That's where counseling comes in. Counseling can help clean out the wound so you can go on, go forward, like you are meant to do.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD

Posted on August 4, 2015 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Who Moved My Cheese? is a motivational book by Spencer Johnson. It is made up of a story he used to help himself deal with change in his own life. According to the introduction, his friends and colleagues noticed how much better his life was and asked for his secret. He shared with them the story of the cheese. It's a very simple story. Many people find it helpful, but some do not understand why such a simple story can be effective.


The cheese represents whatever we want to have in life. It could be a job, a relationship, money, a big house, freedom, health, recognition, spiritual peace, or an activitiy like jogging or golf. Everyone has his or her own idea of what is important, and pursues it because he or she believes it makes him or her happy. If we get the cheese we often get attached to it, and if we lose it, it can be traumatic. The maze represents where you spend time looking for what you want. This is, perhaps, the place you work, your community, or the relationships you have in your life.


A short summary: Two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two people, Hem and Haw, make up the characters. Their names ultimately define their roles and behavior. All four live in a maze and eat cheese to survive. Every morning they all put on their running gear and race through the maze looking for cheese. They eventually find some and settle in to eat. The mice keep their running gear nearby, knowing that eventually they may need to wear it again to continue the search for cheese. The people become too comfortable and forget this possibility. The rest of the story details how each of the characters handles change.


This story is often used in the workplace as a way to help employees deal with and embrace change, but may also show them that they no longer fit into the company if they are unwilling to make changes in how they do things. The story can be applied in everyday life, too. Are you a "Sniff," who sniffs out the situation and sees change early? Or maybe a "Scurry," who goes into action immediately? Perhaps you are a "Hem," who insists on keeping things the same as they always have been, even when outside circumstances are changing. Or are you a "Haw," who resists change at first, but eventually comes around? Once you figure out how you naturally react to change, you can choose a different tactic, if needed, that might make life a little smoother.


Below are Haw's inspirational phrases, written on the maze wall along the way.


Change Happens. They keep moving the cheese.

Anticipate Change. Get ready for the cheese to move.

Monitor Change. Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old.

Adapt to Change Quickly. The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese.

Change. Move with the cheese.

Enjoy Change! Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese!

Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again and Again. They keep moving the cheese.