It’s New Year and like many people I am being asked what my resolutions are for this year – what do I want to change about myself or my life?
In short, then, people are asking me what I am going to do to make myself happier this year.
The answer is quite dull I’m afraid – more of the same. I started making important changes to my life over two years ago and it has since then been an ongoing process of learning and adapting.
Those changes were not made at the turn of a year, triggered by a new year, new start mentality. They were triggered by an important change of mindset. One I now work to try and help my clients adopt.
In 2014 I was the owner of a successful business – one that I had spent the previous 12 years running and building. My husband and I enjoyed a good income and family holidays – we worked hard and appreciated the reward.
In between holidays, however, lies the truth – long days spent frantically juggling a business and staff with a growing family and a young child. Dealing with childcare issues, struggling to ensure a day off, missing school events because I couldn’t get cover or because someone else wanted the day off. As I saw it, I was basically letting my daughter down again and again.
For years I had been aware that I was unhappy with the situation, that I worked too hard and missed too much of my daughter’s childhood. For years I looked at what was going wrong and what I was unhappy with – but I never made any changes.
Then as part of my training as a cognitive behavioural therapist I was introduced to the idea of solution focused therapy. The idea of solution focused therapy is that rather than looking at all the things that are going wrong and that we are unhappy with, we instead look at what IS working in our life. What does make us happy – or what would make us happy. Then to look for things that we CAN do. Changes that we CAN make. Steps we CAN take.
I looked at my problems with fresh eyes. For years I had thought that I couldn’t change things, that I was stuck with the juggling act, because, by focusing on my problem, I was prevented from seeing my solution.
Then I focused instead on what would make me happy –
More time with my child
The ability to attend school events and support my daughter
The ability to plan my work around my life rather than the other way around.
To be able to focus on my work and training in
behavioural therapy, solution focused therapy and hypnotherapy, rather than having the business suck all my energy away.
To not have to deal with staff and their needs before my own.
When faced with this – the solution was obvious – get rid of the business. Yes, this would mean a reduced income. Yes, big holidays would probably have to go. But – would the payoff be worth it? For me the answer was clearly YES.
So that is what I did. I sold my business and spent the following year focused on my training and on myself and my happiness. I got a dog. I spent a lot of time with my daughter and with my friends. The result was a significantly better quality of life and a much happier me.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing and I have learned a lot, I have had to change and adapt – but I am so glad that I did it. So glad that I have learned not to look at my problems, but to instead seek my solutions.
Looking back five years on, I know I am not where I thought I would be when I started making changes. I know my life is not as I planned. However, I now have a job that I love, and one I would never have had if I had not started changing the way things were.
So, I guess what I am saying is that if you do want to use this new year as a way of making changes – make sure that you are looking not at your problems, but at your solutions – make sure you are working towards something that will make you happy.
It does not need to be big large-scale changes either. Taking small steps in the right direction can have a massive positive influence. Because, as you feel the benefits of one small change, you start to look for, and find other small changes you can make, small goals you can set yourself and achieve.
These small changes and successes will provide your motivation, and your happiness, and I genuinely believe, that if you do it this way – you will succeed.