Ah, the new year.
That blessed time of year where many people set goals for the next year. The gym where I work out, will be filled with people who have set 2018 as they year where they finally get fit.
For two weeks or so, at least.
Every year, many people set goals and they typically fall to the wayside by the end of the month.
Well, for one thing, most people don't consider the cost of their goals when they make them. They make a goal that they are going to lose weight but fail to consider that they will need to give up their favorite high calorie, zero nutrition snack.
They set a savings goal without thinking about how they will need to pass the sales rack at their favorite store without actually buying anything simply because it’s on sale.
Secondly, we often set goals that are too vague. I was talking to an aspiring musician one day and I asked him one of my favorite questions, “You have 525,600 minutes to spend over the next 365 days. How will you spend them? What will be different about your life when those minutes are spent.”
That’s a start of a goal but it’s not actually a goal.
What does that mean?
I asked him how much time he was going to spend on polishing his music.
He had zero idea. I told him that I doubted he would actually change much about his music.
If goals are actually going to create change, they have to be specific and measurable.
We often fail to understand the why of our goal.
What are the specific actions we need to take in order to achieve them? If I want to write a book, how many hours a week am I going to dedicate to it?
If I am going to set a savings goal, how much am I going to transfer into savings?
If I am going to set a weight/healthy goal, how many calories should I consume? How much time should I spend exercising?
Where can I learn what I need to learn in order to accomplish these actions?
Why do you want to do what it is your doing? This is why I ask about how you will spend your minutes. The older I get, the more I am convinced that time is our most precious commodity.
Often, we spend it as if we are not in control of how we spend it. As if it just magically disappears from our life.
If you want next year to be different from last year, you must spend this present year differently.
Take some time and write down what you want to happen over the next year.
Now, write out what the emotional pay off is to those goals. I've written about this idea, here. For example, I had a friend that wanted to lose and keep off nearly 100lbs. I asked him about the payoff to his goals. He said, he wanted to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle and go hiking with his son. "Write it down!" I told him.
Change happens when we take the time to answer there key questions. What do you want? What are you willing to pay? What are you willing to risk?
Take time to explore your goals. What do you want (be specific). What are the necessary behaviors you'll need to achieve your goal? What is the emotional payoffs to your goal? If you want to lose weight, why? If you want to save money, what do you want to feel when you save that money? If you want to sponsor a child in another country, what is the emotional reason?
Lastly, we often fail to get back up when we fail. People who attempt change, who want to fight against the status quo of their lives will fail more than people who do not worry about changing. Failure is part of the process. If we are going to successfully change something, we will have to overcome that failure by getting back up and going at it again. Many times, we will need to reattempt change multiple times. *Note. The squirrel has nothing to do with the post. I just thought it was cute.
In the near future, our office will be opening an Urgent Care Mental Health Clinic. We believe it will be the first of this type of service for our area. I want to take a moment today and share with you why we are doing this and what we hope to accomplish with such a clinic.
I once heard a clinician brag about charging client's extra in order to see them on the weekend.
That is something we have never done or embraced here at JMCN. Over the years, I've seen clients in crisis whenever possible, including weekends. I know that is also true of other therapists in our network.
Just last weekend, one of our therapist came in on a Saturday morning to see a client who was in crisis.
But, we can't all be on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
We want to attempt to meet that need. This clinic is our attempt to do that. The Urgent Care Center at JMCN will provide urgent care mental health therapy for people who feel they are in a mental health crisis but cannot see their normal clinician for a period of time. We also want to serve those who do not have a normal clinician and cannot get in to see their preferred clinician in a timely manner.
Take for instance, my friend Bob.* He and I were talking about this a few days ago. His wife Sarah has a regular therapist that she sees three to four times a month. She is dealing with some significant losses recently in her personal life and the grief that accompanies those losses.
Two weeks ago, a beloved pet passed away unexpectedly. Sarah was frantic to see her therapist. The only problem was that her therapist does not see client's on Mondays. On Tuesday, her therapist left for a two week vacation.
Bob felt that having some place where Sarah could have gone to talk about her grief would have been important and helpful.
Or consider for a moment, if you will Wendy and Dave.*
They've been having trouble communicating lately and late last week they had a fight that they both felt might have put their relationship over the edge into a downward death spiral from which it might never recover. As they desperately call around the area looking for a marriage or relationship therapist to help them, they discover that they have a minimum of a one week wait.
We see this Urgent Care clinic as a potential resource for all the Dave and Wendy's of the area.
And for anyone who is feeling depressed and lost...or hurt and abandoned. We want to help.
You can find more information about our Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic by clicking here.
*Not real name.
This is part of a continual series called, "Things I hope my kids learn." I currently have 150 different things written down that I hope they write. You can find the whole series of posts here.
So often little opportunities are missed. I was thinking today about the fact that sometimes life gets really complicated, really fast.
No matter how hard we try, it can get complicated. One thing that I hope my children learn and apply is to do good.
This can be something simple.
Sometimes, it will be complex. In fact, sometimes the good they see that needs to be done, they may not be able to do but I hope and pray that they will not allow those things to keep them from doing the things that they can do.
Whenever possible, do good. I hope that this won't need much explanation for my children.
This video deals with my history of sexual assault at the hands of someone in my neighborhood and the different reactions I've encountered over the years in trying to bring the conversation to light. Since I originally posted the video I have had numerous men reach out to me to tell that they were assaulted in one way or another.
I am so glad that women are finding their voice to express the oppression and assault's they have endured. I hope those who have found their voice can inspire other victims to find their own voice and cal their attackers out into the open.
I hope our society can actually engage in substantive conversation about real change.
We need to stop the message that whatever feels good is OK, without consequence. People are not conquests or objects.
If you've been victimized, you are not the sum of your assault.
It was not your fault.
You do not have to live with the shame. I promise you that's true, even if it doesn't feel that way to you now.
In this video, I explore the three steps for problem solving. So many couples get into trouble in their conversation because they end up trying to go directly to step #3. Watch the video below and let me know what you think. Thanks.
I often meet people who tell me about their wishes.
Sometimes, they call these wishes goals and I call them wishes.
They want to do this thing they're talking about....
......build a business
......start a non-profit
.....write a novel
....do something they are not currently doing.
When I ask them what is keeping them from doing the thing they want to be doing, I usually hear one of two things. Sometimes, I hear both.
"I don't have the time," they say with dour seriousness.
"I don't have the resources," gets expressed with equal chagrin.
I often push back and ask them how important their wish is to them. They often tell me that it's really important. I will ask them how important again and they will express some agitation at me asking the same question a second time.
I often tell them that I find that question to be the most important because I believe that people do what they want to do when they want to do it.
I often find that people fail at starting something new because they are unwilling to say no to something that they are currently doing but find unsatisfying.
You want to have a family? Well, that's going to impact the amount of times you can hang out with your "bros".
You want to get healthier? Well, that's going to force you to change your eating, and sleep habits.
You want to have an intimate relationship? Well, that's going to force you to change how you draw your boundaries and deploy your personal amour.
No matter what you do, you'll have to stop doing something else.
I have found it helpful to judge people's seriousness about an endeavor by making one seemingly weird suggestion.
When they suggest to me that they are under-resourced, I'll suggest they cut their cable or phone bill.
The reactions are almost comical.
It's as though by suggesting they cut out their cable that I am asking for a limb.
"But, if you're going to get where you want to go, you'll need to change something," I prod. "What do you want to change?"
"I can't. I'm stuck,"
To that I say, "Hogwash!"
The journey from where you are to where you want to be is going to be hard. Everything in life worth having is hard.
Life is hard because it's supposed to be hard, because that is how we learn.
What about you? What do you want to do that you're not doing? What is keeping you from chasing that thing? Is is fear? What are you willing to pay to get it done? Think beyond terms of monetary payments here. Are you willing to pay engaging your fear? Are you willing to risk failure (maybe public)? Are you willing pay people telling you it won't work? Are you willing to lose sleep? Are you willing to delay gratification?
Here's another truth for another post but remember that today what you do is because you're choosing to do it. If you don't like the results you're getting, start making plans to make different choices.
"We need to improve our communication." Sarah*
When I asked her what that meant, she told me that she and her husband Ryan needed to be able to talk in a way that didn't lead to stress between them.
I followed that question up with what made her think that their communication needed improvement.
Ryan jumped in, "Because we get frustrated and mad with each other!"
"But what if that's good?" I replied.
And we had to end the session by calling the ambulance as they both broke their jaws on the floor at the idea that a therapist could think frustration and conflict was a good thing. (I kid).
I still believe this to be true. In fact, I think we can figure out how intimate we are with someone based on how much conflict we wade through with them. I know some people will be and are put off by the idea that friendships can be put into levels but I am uncertain how else to process what is the difference.
- Level 1. The "Not Really" relationship. This friendship is someone that you wouldn't honestly avoid at all cost if you could do so. When you're in the grocery store and see them in aisle three, you head to aisle nine. But if you they double back on you and your paths cross in aisle seven, you'll give the polite nod and greet mumbling something about the weather or another inane aspect of life.
- Level 2. The "Sort of" relationship. This friendship is someone that you don't actively avoid but you won't go out of your way to converse with them. You might stop and discuss something with them and you might even say yes to an invitation. You might know that they like the State over the other team or that they prefer kayaking to canoeing. But you won't endure much conflict with them. If you were in trouble at 4:00am, you wouldn't even think to call them. These are people we call acquaintances.
- Level 3. The "Not Quite Intimate" relationship. This relationship is where most people stop, even married couples. These are often people we call friends. Many people will say things like, "We do life together,' etc. Many people will date people in this category and even get married. What makes this the not quite category is that people have an almost hard cap on the amount of conflict they will endure in this stage. When conflict comes that moves them past that cap, they will bail on the relationship. I see many people operate in this stage for most of their life with most of the people in it.
- Level 4. The "Intimate" relationship. This relationship is intimate. These are people that yo have been through real substantive conflict with. They've hurt you and you've hurt them because being in relationship involves hurt. Dealing with that hurt is what creates intimacy. Our brains are a swirling mass of often unfiltered emotions that we need to examine. I believe one of the best ways to examine these emotions is to do it with someone else that we trust. We all inherently know that conflict is uncomfortable. When we purposely engage in processing conflict, we are telling the other person that we care about them and the relationship we have with them more than we care about our own comfort. This is powerful. Healthy people will have a few people in this category as healthy boundaries are required at all levels.
The key to this is processing our emotions and the conflict that arises from them well. And as Sarah and Ryan eventually learned we have to make peace with the idea that being stressed isn't bad. We also have to change the goal of good communication.
What about you? Who do you have in your life that you are truly intimate with?
*Sarah is a made up character that is an amalgamation of many clients. Indeed all characters in this post are made up and they all
Recently a friend of mine had a firestorm of conversation erupt on a post she made on social media. Few of the contributors stopped to consider what lens they were using to understand the post and how that was impacting their statements.
While there were many words, there was little communication.
Watch this video to learn a tool that will help you to avoid the trap of many words and little communication. Understanding what is going on in your own brain and emotions will help you be a better communicator.
Usually with a passion.
And yet, they make zero changes.
They do the same things over and over again.
As if their life is written out for them and no matter what they attempt, they are stuck living a life they hate.
This is patently false.
We, you and I can always change our life. The problem is that change is often hard
Change is often very painful. Even desired change.
Most people resist that pain choosing rather to wallow in the pain that they are familiar with over the potential pain that they do not know. This resistance to pain of any kind becomes muscle memory and it simply becomes easier to avoid it.
But this resistance to pain comes at a new price. The person becomes stuck in their life that they hate. But stuck is the wrong word because it implies some sort of outside force keeping them from achieving their desired outcome. Most of the time, the outside force is us.
There are three simple questions everyone must ask of themselves if they want to experience change.
- What do I want? This is the most basic question. What do I really want? Often we want competing things. That is to say, we often want things that cancel each other out. We want to be heroic but face zero danger. We want to spend money indiscriminately and grow our savings account. This is why we need to make priorities.
- What am I willing to pay? We often want things without having to pay for them. We want to own a successful business without putting in the hours required to be successful. We want to lose weight without sacrificing foods that we like but that are bad for us. We want to get better sleep but don't want to pay the cost of going to bed earlier. So often, people get stuck because they decide the price of change is too steep without adequately measuring the cost of staying the same.
- What am I willing to risk? So often people want to achieve something without risk. This is impossible. The person who wants to expand her circle of friends will have to risk rejection. The man who wants to experience true love will be forced the risk the loss of that love. The person who wants to experience change, will have to risk the possibility of set backs and failures.
And so I say to my children, and you...indeed to myself, if we don't like the situation we are currently in, we are free to change it. Always.
This video is from my YouTube page regarding ways every conversation can be improved. Conversations about conflict can be hard, and this won't make them easier, but it will give help you make it more productive. Watch it and let me know what you think.