Now that the holiday season is behind us and we have had a chance to celebrate with family and friends, it's a good time to reflect on what we have and examine what path we might take in the new year. As each of us does this, we may find we have some things we hoped for, but there are aspects of our lives that are not in place as planned.
Let me take this opportunity to hope you will have all you imagine would make you happy. Here are some of my hopes for you.
I hope you have figured out a way to balance your life. We have to balance work, play, family, and friends. Having more time isn't the answer because we could just as easily mismanage more of it. I hope we learn to manage the time we have and use it in a fulfilling way by doing what we really want to do, more of the time. If you're doing this, you will feel you're devoting good quality time to your family relationships. When you're doing something else that takes you away, there's no guilt or pressure. Family members are fulfilled and not resenting you. Your spouse is feeling heard, respected, loved, and enjoyed by you. Your children feel that you know them well and still like them...and you really do.
I hope you'll be able to spend time pursuing your own personal interests and hobbies that may or may not be separate from your familys and friends'. Everyone needs a way to replenish and to reenergize--the trick is figuring it out what it is and then doing it. You have to be able to give yourself permission to discover what you want to do and then follow through with it. It's a way to work out your unexpressed aspirations outside the obligations of job and family. If you can allow this to happen, see where it takes you. You will learn something interesting about yourself.
I hope you will be able to maintain a good support system. Don't let old friendships fade away due to everyday responsibilities. Having some sort of contact with friends at least once a month is a good way to assure relationships. Friends can serve as a good sounding board, especially if you have friends with different talents, interests, and backgrounds. They can give you a fresh perspective you wouldn't otherwise get.
I hope you have a fulfilling career, one that gives you enough challenge, control, and autonomy. A career like this is a great source of pride and self-esteem. A career needs to be challenging, so it keeps your interest and pushes you to continually learn, grow professionally, and improve yourself. No one wants a predictable, easy job. That type of job will become monotonous and boring. You need some sense of control, where you can make influential decisions and know you can directly affect what happens. Your job also needs to offer autonomy so you have room for your own creativity. This way you can feel you own a piece of it and you can put your signature on your work.
In all the day-to-day responsibilities and obligations, I hope you can find compassion in life. Whether you're a religious person or not you still can be a spiritual one. Getting yourself involved in some cause outside of your own personal interests or gain, like volunteering, heightens how you feel about yourself and gives you a stronger sense of value. Improving someone else's life or being part of a change in a condition will have you walking away feeling great.
Along with valuing others and focusing on other situations outside of your own, I hope you will value yourself enough to keep an eye on your health. Get around to that annual physical examination. So many problems show no symptoms and go undetected until it's too late. Even when we do experience symptoms we often minimize them and not take them seriously. Congratulations to those who are conscious of their diet and eating nutritious, healthy meals, and to the ones who have incorporated an exercise regimen into their daily lives. Society tends to discourage us from focusing on these needs. Our health is often put on the backburner, and I hope you don't.
Finally, I hope you incorporate humor in your life. We all need to be able to find the humor in things, to be able to laugh and particularly at ourselves. Humor is a great way to reduce stress. Don't underestimate it. Humor keeps things real and puts things in their proper perspectives.
These are my hopes for you. I believe they can bring much happiness to your lives. If you are already doing these things, then you are well on your way; and if you're not, my hopes are with you.
Bettyann Lichtenstein is a licensed clinical therapist. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.