image smart woman via wiredforhappy

Nothing like the New Year and a clean slate to refresh, rejuvenate and recharge. Talk about unleashing a new you.

But there’s a catch—becoming a different person, or a better version of you doesn’t come by wishing. Like the euphoria that comes with having a baby or getting a puppy for Christmas, it’s easy to get drunk off the fresh, new possibilities of it all.

Who can resist? We look around and see people hitting the gym with vigor, setting lofty business goals, proclaiming 2017 as the year of making money, planning exotic trips, and so on.

Here’s the problem. Most of us get caught up in the creation of the new to-dos, but few of us actually execute on the plans. Envisioning, dreaming, and brain-storming is intoxicating. What’s not is hunkering down with the action plan, complete with time lines, accountability measures and revisions.

The good news is there’s a simple way to define the goals that bring meaning to your life. And this method will not leave you feeling disappointed because you took on too much and then quit in frustration.

To borrow an unappetizing metaphor– it’s not about eating the elephant whole, but taking a bite out of its ass.

For those with weight loss goals, you’re welcome 😉

Without further ado, here’s a fool-proof plan for reducing worry, fear, anger and sadness, while increasing self-esteem, happiness and joy. So break out the pen and paper (or download the plan below) and get to writing!

Part 1: Define Mental Health

Think about who you want to become, and what it would take to make this ideal version a reality. The categories below can help you narrow your focus and get clear about what and who you want in your life, and what and who you don’t want. Think big and don’t hold back here.

Step 1. What I want for myself. For example, better health, improved fitness, more money, home projects, etc.

Step 2. What I want from my relationships. For example, better communication with my teen, quality time with my aging mom, improved communication with my spouse, less arguing with my family, being more present and less distracted when I’m with my kids, etc.

Step 3. What I want for my career, school or business. For example, applying to graduate school, getting my LCSW, writing a book, adding more clients, hiring a graphic designer, etc.


Part II. Get Specific, or Go Home!

Now look over your list and start crossing off the non-essentials. I know, this sounds counterintuitive, since you just went big, and all, but most of us get overwhelmed when wading in the waters of ‘new me’ possibilities.

Identifying the negotiables is key to being realistic and avoiding burnout. Cut out those things that won’t add as much value as accomplishing other things.

There’s a difference between wanting to visit your college buddy across the country, versus making the time you have after work with your kids count.

Hint: What will bring more value to you and those you cherish the most?

Remember we have a finite amount of mental energy every day and unused minutes do not roll over to the next month.

The beautiful thing about paring down is you can always add the other stuff later once you’ve accomplished your most meaningful goals.

An added benefit of pruning is increased mental energy and decisiveness. On a personal level, I decided to quit my fancy gym last year. Nothing wrong with the facility, only the 15-minute commute got to be a drag. So I bought some home gym equipment, and vowed to hit the high school track 1-2 times weekly for six months. If after that time I felt I needed more structure, I’d go back to the bells and whistles studio.

Needless to say, the pared down, solitary workout experience suits my lifestyle better. Best of all, I no longer feel guilty for paying a princely sum for naught, each month.

Can I share a secret with you? The difference between the go-getters and everyone else, is they set daily intentions, and then follow through. Honestly, I use this method and it’s a game-changer for my business and my life.


Part III. Map It Out

The part where you use a simple monthly calendar to track the tasks and activities you’ll do to become the you you’ve been dreaming of. Win-win!


Click here for a free, downloadable goal setting template.

Click here for a free, downloadable resource to track your unhelpful thoughts and reframe them.

Read this article if you need more support for narrowing down what will bring more value to your life.

Regardless of the year my friends, there’s never been a better time to focus on improved mental health and happiness.

Please kindly share this article on Facebook or Twitter to help spread the good mental health word.

Yours in heath and wellness,