Vail Relationships column: Do you want 2017 to be better than 2016?
The beginning of a new year is a great time to look at the big picture of our lives. Where are you in the big picture of your life versus where you want to be? Are there any changes you want (or need) to make in order for the next year to be better than the past year — or perhaps better than the past dozen years? Here are my suggestions about how to go about creating a renewed vision for you in the new year:
• What did you accomplish or experience in 2016 that you’re proud of or grateful for?
• What would you like to experience, learn or achieve in 2017? What have you always wanted that you might try doing this year? Create as large a list as you can in answering those questions, and commit to setting your sights on one or two of those goals. This will give you something to look forward to, because truthfully you do not want to wake up at age 70 and realize that you haven’t done the things you have always dreamed about. Gaze 12 months into the future and answer this question: What three to five things did I do in 2017 to make this year so amazing?
• If you are married or in a relationship, then what could you do that would make your relationship better than it is today? (If you cannot answer this question, ask your partner, and take seriously what she or he says.)
• I have three additional suggestions for bettering an intimate relationship: First, choose to be at peace with your spouse or partner, rather than angry or irritated. Second, you can deepen the connection in your relationship by offering your undivided time, involvement and engagement. Third, learn to tolerate disagreement without withdrawing, getting defensive or getting argumentative.
• Stay out of debt. It costs too much.
• For young people: While you have nobody dependent upon you, instead of buying stuff, spend whatever you can afford on traveling the world and giving yourself experiences.
• Create better work-life balance by addressing this question from author Vicki Robin: Does spending money bring you pleasure in proportion to the hours that you spent earning it?
• Mistakes are our best teachers. Don’t waste them. Learn the lessons they offer you so you don’t repeat them.
• Tend to the health and well-being of all of your significant relationships. In the end, there is nothing more important.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the best-selling book “Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777, or visit neilrosenthal.com.