New Years Resolutions – How are yours doing?

Did you make some new years resolutions? How are they doing? It’s not so easy to change your habits is it?


This is the time of the year when people are taking stock of their lives, examining their progress or lack thereof, and contemplating the path they would like to take in the coming year. You undoubtedly have heard many different ways to set goals in previous years, but this year I would like to invite you to set your course from an existential perspective .

The existential perspective can be seen as an invitation to live and not just a list of things to change. As such, this list will call you to a deeper examination of a more meaningful life, help you to begin to view the upcoming year through an existential lens, and, hopefully, empower you to reclaim and truly own your life.

1. Begin with the end in mind: Although Steven Covey made this statement famous with his goal-setting guidance, the end we’re discussing here is not the end of 2013 but rather the end of your life. Death is not something our culture likes to talk about, but it’s important for living a full life. Imagine how you would live your life if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness or if you were 85 years old. Chances are you would spend more time on the things that really matter, like cultivating relationships, playing more, and worrying less.

2. Practice presence: Practicing presence is mindful engagement with the present moment. A person who is present is one who is aware of his or her own experience and, often, the experiences of others. The present person is one who pays careful attention to what is happening in the now, wherever he or she might be, without allowing outside distractions to invade. Practicing presence will deepen your relationship with your colleagues, family, loved ones, and yourself.

3. Positive thinking? Forget about it: Positive thinking, while having some merit, is one of the ways in which people tend to deny their experience. Positive thinking encourages people to focus on the good things in life while forsaking the darker aspects that life also holds. While I don’t believe that wallowing in sorrow or focusing only on the negative aspects of life is healthy, neither is denying their existence. In fact, denying the experience of negative feelings or experiences can be even more harmful later, when the unresolved emotions arise. This year, work on allowing yourself to have your experience without getting stuck in it. Whatever you’re feeling, let it be and then let it go.

4. Choose freedom (and responsibility): Viktor Frankl said “I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast” because he understood that with freedom comes responsibility. In fact, the two are intricately intertwined. If you really want to be free, you have to take total responsibility for your life. Once you do, you will never again be a victim to people, forces out of your control, or circumstances because no matter what happens, you will always be free to choose how you respond to it.

5. Make the journey the goal: When you focus solely on the outcome or the endgame, you lose the value of the journey—and the journey is the richest part. Although there is value in setting measurable goals, don’t get so consumed with the ending that you miss out on what really matters. If losing weight is your goal, keep the big picture in mind but celebrate the smaller goals along the way. Instead of counting success in pounds lost, consider the success in feeling healthy. Wherever you are in the journey is exactly where you ought to be; enjoy where you are while on the way to where you’re going.

As you progress through this New Year, set your goals and resolutions using an existential perspective. I trust you will find a more poignant, powerful, and meaningful life emerging. Here’s to a vivified existence with renewed courage and will. I wish you health, wellness, love, and hope this year and all years.

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Got the blues in January?

Winter TreesHow to beat the blues

According to some formulae, the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year (the calculation involves bad weather, Christmas debt and time since failing to fulfil New Year’s resolutions, among others) and has been tagged ‘Blue Monday’.

Although there is no scientific basis to this formula there is no doubt that this is a difficult time of year for some people and why the day has developed this status isn’t that surprising. Any party that lasts from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve is bound to result in a serious hangover, and the return to reality after a long break can be depressing for some. It’s especially true in the current economic climate, where the news may appear to be an unrelenting and daily dose of decline, dour weather and increased prices and lower income.

However there are simple things that anyone can do to cheer themselves up, even on this allegedly bleakest of days.

Firstly, exercise. Many people will have joined a gym in the New Year but this isn’t strictly necessary, and it is easy to fall away, particularly when the nights are cold and dark and you have all those DVD boxsets that you received as presents to watch. The best thing to do is to make small changes to your routine which increases the amount of exercise you do.
Examples of these small changes could be getting off the bus a stop early or, for those that drive to work, parking the car a five-minute walk away.Even minor activities can improve your mood.

Another thing that can improve your mood is diet, so try and eat healthily. That doesn’t necessarily mean not eating things that you like, but trying to achieve a reasonable balance between those things that are good for you such as fresh fruit and vegetables and those that are ‘naughty but nice’. Good nutrition supports your brain as well as your body.

Many people may not feel that they need this advice after a heavy festive period but being careful about alcohol intake is important. It might feel like having a couple of drinks can cheer you up but you need to remember that alcohol can act as a depressant, and what goes up must come down.

It is unlikely that ‘sleeping well’ will be in many peoples’ New Year’s resolutions but getting a decent night’s sleep is vital to anyone’s wellbeing. Having a good routine is key, as sleep irregularities can negatively affect mood.

Some people find sharing their problems difficult, and this is especially an issue among some men, who think talking about their feelings is a sign of weakness. The opposite is actually the truth. It takes great courage to ask for help and there is no shame in it. If you feel uncomfortable talking to people you know, then organisations like the Samaritans are available 24-hours a day and you can call anonymously. And always remember that feeling sad at times is just part of the human experience. It will pass.

People who feel low often isolate themselves from others but this is the last thing they should do. Spending time with people whose company you enjoy and engage in activities such as going for a meal or to the cinema. If money is a problem, then go for a walk or visit a museum or art gallery. There are plenty of things that you can do for free.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is so much you can do to improve your mood, whether it’s exercise, watching a film you enjoy or socialising. The New Year can be a new and more positive start.

If you regularly experience sustained periods of anxiety or depression then make an appointment with your GP.

If you would like to know more about Life-Goals Psychotherapy in Warrington, Cheshire and South Lancashire click here.

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4 steps to achieving your goals

Whether you want to quit smoking, find a new job or lose weight, we all have our very own goals. The problem is, they remain just goals for us, and many don’t take action to achieve them. Some proclaim that they don’t have time; others tell us that they’re impossible.

Well, you can achieve your goals. And it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. All it takes is some hard work and dedication.

Set the goal
The first step is to establish and understand your goals. I find that writing them down on paper is the best way to get the ball rolling. Without knowing where you’re going, you’re never going to get there.

Go into as much detail as you can. This way you’ll be able to break your goals down into chunks and set your targets, which brings me on to my next point…

Create a plan
Know you’ve detailed what it is you want, and where you want to be, you can start to work on your route. Don’t just aim for the main goal; establish smaller goals that will eventually lead you to your final destination.

Example – if you want to quit smoking by a certain date, don’t just aim to have quit by that point. Make smaller goals to help you get there. So, say in a months’ time, you will have cut down by 5 cigarettes a day, and then up that amount each month. Eventually, when you reach your final destination you’ll have cut down to 0 cigs a day.
The plan is going to make achieving your goals a hell of a lot easier.

Act on it
It’s all very well and good setting your goals out and creating a plan, but if you don’t stick to them the whole exercise is pointless.

It isn’t always going to be easy, but hard work pays off. You need motivation to stick to it, so establish treats when you’ve reached certain mini goals.

If you miss one of your mini goals punish yourself. Do whatever you have to. Keeping on track is going to be the hardest part.

If you’re repeatedly missing your mini goals you need to take a step back, evaluate and then readjust. You might not get it right first time, but if you’re able to assess what you’ve achieved and see where you have gone wrong, you can get there.

We can all achieve our goals, regardless of what they are. It isn’t going to happen overnight, and there isn’t a special formula to get there. We’re all individual so it’s about finding out how best you work.

If you would like some help doing these steps contact me for a free discussion of your needs

Good luck!

The Power of your Thoughts

Change your thoughts change your life! Think about it! Our beliefs and assumptions about life are a self fulfilling prophecy. Our minds are programmed to look for confirming evidence to them. We do this because we don’t want to seem mad to ourselves. Unconsciously we need congruence and consistency and for the world to conform to our beliefs. The result is, if we expect bad, that is what we will get, or at least what we’ll perceive happens.

one thought - purple flower

So what would you like to have happen? We naturally move towards goals that we set. Our creative part gets to work without our conscious awareness. So do some housekeeping! Clear out some negative thoughts! Entertain thoughts of hope, and expectations of what you would like to have happen!

There are lots of tools you can use to shape your thoughts and harness their power. If you would like to learn more about them, Contact me now to discuss how you can reach your goals.


The spring equinox is nearly here (in the northern hemisphere). This tells us that spring has well and truly arrived. Spring flowers are coming up everywhere. Even through snow in some places.

Is your life showing signs of spring? Have you got some key goals decided for this year? Are your plans beginning? Do you know what steps you need to take to bring about what you want to have happen this year?

Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

The cycle of the seasons is a great way to give some structure to your plans and progress in your life. The seasons and festivals of the year provide a natural rhythm which can harness our energy effectively and give shape to our life’s journey.

Now is the time to get started on your projects for this year. If you have not already done so, set your self some goals. Get some help to set goals Now is the time to dream of what you want to be like, doing, who to be with, where you want to be, in a few months or a years time. Specific – What specifically do you want to achieve? Measurable – How will you know when you have achieved it? Time limited – When do you want this by?

Decide on some steps that need to be taken to get to your goal. and get your self going! Help to get motivated?

Natural ways to lift Depression


One of the ways of overcoming depression, which is often overlooked, is the positive effect of activity. It is hard to stay feeling really low if you are doing something. One of the reasons for this is that depression is made worse by thinking about feeling low, and being busy stops this process of thinking about being depressed, called rumination. The other way in which doing something helps, is when what is done gives a sense of achievement or pleasure. Most people will naturally choose to do some things that give the sense of achievement or pleasure, but if you focus on mainly these activities, then depression will lift faster.

If you are feeling down, keep a diary for a few days or a week of what you have done. Record on a scale of 1 – 10 (where 1 is really low and 10 is happy) how you feel, as you do various activities. Then mark which activities give you a sense of achievement or pleasure, by putting an A or a P by them. Try to increase the time spent on these A & P activities.

Achievement and pleasure activities give us positive feedback about life, positive reinforcement that life is worth living, pleasurable, and good. This is the opposite of the hopelessness and pointlessness that cause depression.

If you want to use this approach to feeling better its important to do the activities even if you don’t feel like it sometimes. Act “as if”. The feeling better often comes later, so begin even when you feel low, and keep going. You will most likely suddenly realise that you feel better without realising how and when it came about. It’s a natural and low tech, side effect free way to lift mood.

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Helping you make it happen. What do you want to have happen?

The structure of your life is in your hands. Making sure your roots are healthy, deep enough and in a fertile place.  Growing a strong trunk that can support what you want to do and who you want to be. Reaching your branches out into the right areas and directions. Putting out foliage that shows who you are. Producing flowers to attract who you need in your life. Growing fruit that is the satisfying product of your life for your self and those you wish to nourish.

What would you like to have happen? What keeps happening?  What do you want to stop or avoid?  and What do you want to have happen?

Being clear about the structure you wish to create is the first step to a satisfying, fun, happy and joyful life.

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New Years Resolutions Already faded away?

Have your New years Resolutions already faded into last week? Feeling guilty about not having more determination and willpower? Here is the inside news – New Years Resolutions are inherently flawed. What you probably wanted to change was a long standing habit that you have been practising for years to get it just flowing from your unconscious without having to remember to do it. Trying to change it by willpower and conscious trying is not an effective method.

The effective way is to re-educate your unconscious to be creating the new habit you want to replace the old habit with.

First decide what you are going to be doing instead of the old habit. Then practise twice a day seeing your self do the new habit and how great you feel about it. Keep up this visualisation for a month. Once you feel a strong desire to do the new habit start it but don’t try to push yourself to do it. Let the pull of the new unconscious perception and motivation work for you.

Between 30 days and 45 days later the new habit will have become established as part of the new you. and it will stay part of you flowing naturally without thinking for ever or until you replace it with a new vision.

For more information click Life-Goals