By Luke Dalfiume, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Co-Owner, John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates
I love every new year. I know that at some level it is just a psychological construct. However, each new year seems to be bursting with potential, and I get excited thinking about the possibilities for change and new experiences. One year, on New Year’s Day, I got on the scale and I was heavier than I have ever been in my life. I was inspired then to begin exercising. I chose to begin running, something I had done only sporadically in my adult life. I continue to do so to this day.
Too often, however, I let the time slip by. I intend to be intentional about the new year, to have plans and goals—resolutions—but then it is February or March and I never developed them. At that point, psychologically, it seems too late, so I do nothing. At other times I start the new year with intention, but quickly find myself slipping back to being the way I was and doing the same things I did before.
We have a tendency to repeat ourselves every day, doing today what we did yesterday and the day before that. Not only doing the same things, but being the same person—focusing on the same things, seeing ourselves and the world in the same ways. As a psychologist and as a Christian I think we tend to be missing out, not opening ourselves up to the realities and possibilities in our personal lives as well as in the world at large.
How do we escape this? It is important to have a vision of who we want to be or how we want to be to guide our thoughts and behavior. Otherwise, we are likely to flounder around, doing and being different for a period of time, but then reverting back to our old ways after that. Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, suggested we need to Begin with the End in Mind. Having a vision or a goal helps to guide our thoughts and behaviors, helping us to make changes.
It is also important, however, to cultivate a receptivity to life. It is common to ignore many of the inputs from life because we are preoccupied with certain things. However, when we can open ourselves up to inputs—both external and internal—then we can begin to see ourselves and life in new ways. This may mean paying attention to the sights and sounds and smells around us in ways we do not typically do. It may mean paying closer attention to what our family or friends are saying and doing.
When we are able to cultivate this kind of intentionality—in terms of having a vision as well as a greater receptivity to life—we are better able to see the possibilities and potentialities in ourselves and the world and to make positive change.
For more information or to book an appointment, contact John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates at phone 309-692-7755 or visit us online at www.christianpsychological.org. We have an office in Peoria at 3716 W. Brighton Ave. and in Bloomington at 102 N. Main St.