Big plans depend on small, inner details.

Share story

Do you have a major problem to fix in the coming year?

Maybe one of your New Year’s Resolutions it to find a job. Or, have you vowed to get over a painful divorce and start dating?

Large goals such as these might seem daunting, especially if you’ve tried to chisel them down to size with no luck.

Most of us get angry with ourselves when we can’t lick a formidable problem. We beat ourselves up because we pride ourselves on getting things done.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

“One of the biggest reasons my clients are depressed during the holidays,” says a psychologist we’ll call Paula, “is that they didn’t clear up their most irksome problems over the year.”

Paula goes on to say that relationship issues worry her patients a lot. Some feel very unhappy because they aren’t married yet. Others, on the other hand, feel trapped in a bad relationship.

“I tell my patients to start taking steps to focus healthier attention on themselves,” says Paula. “When we do something great for ourselves, everything around us will start to change.”

Paula believes discouraged people who take steps to feel their best will get control of their lives. They will make better choices.

“When you feel good about yourself, you will attract good people and better opportunities into your life,” she insists.

Here are some of her tips:

— Work on your personal appearance. Making small changes every week will add up. Take time to put together nice clothes or go to the gym.

— Keep a balanced schedule to lower stress. Plan appropriate work, exercise and fun. Write out a daily schedule and stick to it.

— Find-tune your finances. Figure out how to spend more wisely and save money to pay down debt. When you control money issues, you will definitely have more control over your life.

A man we’ll call Michael lost his job and house in recent months. He agrees with Paula that self-care is a great starting point to recovery.

“My financial world came crashing down,” says Michael. “This past year was a nightmare year for me. I lost my job in January, and my house was in foreclosure by November.”

Michael’s problems began when he helped his grown son in numerous ways financially.

“I bailed my son out of a shaky business venture,” Michael told us. “He saved his business, but it wiped out my life savings.”

One of Michael’s goals is to get his emotional health back. At 54, he has no retirement savings and a host of other problems.

We sat down with Michael to advise him to practice good self-care over the coming months. He is slowly putting together a financial recovery plan, and he’s found a good job.

One of his first goals is to visit the gym every day. Michael says a gym membership is a significant expense, but it’s important for his emotional wellness.

“I want to get in shape physically, so I’ll feel like giving 100 percent every day,” he says.

Michael doesn’t want to waste time feeling sorry for himself. His goal is to move forward with a brand new life plan.

“I think any setback should make us think about good changes,” says Michael. “I was not that happy with the large mortgage and big house I lost. I want to live in a more nonmaterialistic way and look after my overall well-being.”

Michael sums up his philosophy for the coming months this way: “If I stop beating myself up for my losses, I’ll have all that energy to use more productively. If I take care of me, I’ll feel strong enough to meet any challenge head on.”

— — —

JudiHopsonandEmmaHopsonareauthorsofastressmanagementbookforparamedics,firefightersandpolice,”BurnouttoBalance:EMSStress.”TedHagenisafamilypsychologist.WritetothemincareofMcClatchy-TribuneNewsService,70012thStreetNW,Suite1000,WashingtonD.C.20005;pleaseencloseacopyofthecolumnandthenameofthenewspaperyousawitin.Youcanalsocontacttheauthorsthroughthewebsitewww.hopsonglobal.com.