Staying Positive in the New Year

January 5, 2009 5:05:37 AM PST
Each New Year offers the promise of a fresh start. We often set new goals and feel optimistic that we can change our lives for the better. This New Year, instead of feeling optimistic, many of us are feeling fearful and uncertain about the future. Perhaps the economy has hit you hard, maybe you have lost a job or you are fearful of a future layoff, maybe there are health issues or relationship issues that you are dealing with. How do you stay positive in the New Year in spite of the challenges you may be facing?

1. Be accepting of your fears: The first thing to know is that being positive does not mean that you never feel afraid. In the current economic climate and what may be happening in your life, it makes sense that you would be feeling anxious, fearful, or negative. When you can be accepting of how you feel (let it be okay that you feel how you feel), you free up your energy from struggling with negative emotions and you can use that energy to take positive, proactive action.

2. Take responsibility for your life: Sounds obvious, but often when we are in a negative state we stop taking true responsibility for what is and what is not happening in our lives and our fear ends up being in control. Keep focusing on what you CAN control and looking to see what you CAN do that is positive and proactive financially, in your career, in your relationships and in your own health and well-being.

3. Focus on what is going well: It is all too easy to obsess about what is not going well in your life and lose sight of what is going well. When you can focus on being grateful for what is going well, even small things, it helps you keep a more positive attitude and helps you better envision and take action to create what you do want in your life.

4. Set goals for the New Year that inspire you. So often we start the year with goals that are really about what we think we "should" do. We tell ourselves, "Lose 10 pounds," "Save more money," "Declutter the house." If those goals don't inspire you, you are likely to give up on them by February and feel like a failure. If instead, you focus on what feels truly inspiring to you "Look and feel great this spring," "Be Joyfully debt-free by 2010," or "Live in a home that is a peaceful retreat" you are more likely to stay positive and motivated.

5. Make a plan. Many of us are not sleeping at night and feeling anxious all day worrying about money, layoffs, foreclosures, etc. While these are anxiety-provoking issues, it is important to face the possibilities. Instead of obsessing about what has happened or what may or may not happen, you are better off talking things over with others and making a solid plan that gives you a place to focus your energy and clear course of action to take to make the best of your situation.

Alison Miller, Ph.D
Co-Founder of Tiara: The Exceptional Woman's Coaching Program