Making change: What do you want to add and subtract in 2014?

What changes will you choose to make yourself?

What changes will you choose to make yourself?

This busy time of year we’re not only preparing for the holidays, we’re also preparing for the end of 2013, and that means we’re preparing for the beginning of the New Year, 2014! The wonderful thing about a new year is a new start, the feeling that we have a clean slate and can make changes, the feeling that we can leave whatever bad came in 2013 behind and choose differently. (Of course we can actually do this other times too: birthdays, personal anniversaries, a random Tuesday… we can choose to reassess life any day!) Have you started thinking about what you want for 2014 yet?

I know that our mental health counselor Amy Smith has already been thinking about what she wants  in 2014, because we’ve been brainstorming in the office! Amy follows the blog, where the author has embarked on what he calls his “Year of Living Without” (I particularly like his subtitle “Or, How I Made Room for Life”). He started last July (see, you can choose to change anytime!) and has given up a different item every month since. Some items he brings back after the month, others he doesn’t – it all depends on how it works for him. It is certainly an interesting idea, but it sounds difficult to me! It seems to me that the point would be to experiment with giving things up that might be holding you back in life or to give up bad habits. But it could also just be a way to simplify – to “make room for life”!

Amy started thinking about doing her own year of living without, and we were trying to brainstorm different things she could give up. We thought about coffee, sugar, gluten, meat, and alcohol. We found it more difficult to come up with non-food/drink items – television, internet, texting? And that’s when our mental health counselor/couples counselor Cindy Fabico and I suggested that Amy (or any of us) could also choose to add things for a month.

Maybe she (I? you?) could add meditation, journaling, yoga, more nature, more culture, more art, more contact with friends, or a specific thing she wanted to learn like a language or a craft. She (I? you?) could also add good habits, like doing the dishes immediately (ok, ok, that one’s definitely mine!).

I found the list of things to add a lot more fun to brainstorm than things to give up! Better yet, it occurred to me that if I was adding things to my life that were positive for my life, well, I’d have less time, space, and energy for the things that are negative (or even less positive) in my life. I might naturally move away from those things that I’d want to give up, without necessarily feeling like I was forced to give them up! To me, this seemed far less stressful, difficult, and confrontational than deciding to give up bad habits. What do you think? Would you prefer focusing on adding positives or subtracting negatives? Or maybe do some of both?

Of course, the conversations led to me wanting to pick things to add and subtract from life too. I’d like to meditate, do yoga, learn how to box, cook more (and do the dishes faster), read more, spend my time more effectively, spend more time with family and friends, watch less television… I could keep going – I’m on a roll!  Maybe you’re all excited too, thinking of all the things you’ll change in 2014. It’s all very exciting, fresh, and new!

And while we are capable of making amazing change, here’s the trick: brainstorming the things you want to do and actually doing things you want to do are very different! So, let’s not let my roll get too far! Put up that caution sign! If we try to make lots of changes all at once, we’re probably making change more difficult. We might get frustrated, and we might not end up making the changes we want. And that’s what we’ll talk about next time: how to make changes that actually stick.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you about what you’d like to add to your life, what you’d like to give up, and all those brilliant ideas you have for adding and subtracting that can help others! Will you attempt a month (or year) of living with or without? Let us know on our Facebook page!

If you’d like help in choosing goals, giving up bad habits, or envisioning your life, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378. Our counselors’ specialties include child counseling, teen counseling, adult counseling, couples counseling, and family counseling, all across a wide variety of issues. We can’t wait to partner with you in creating a wonderful 2014!

Yours in making change! ~Krista Bringley