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Welcome the New Year with reflection

Dr. Lyndsay Elliott is one of Southern California’s most prominent psychologists in her field of expertise. Dr. Lyndsay maintains her clinical practice in Newport Beach, California. As a food and body image expert for the last 15 years, ...

Make 2012 about a better you

Surrounded by the excitement of the holidays, another year has rapidly come to a close. It’s hard to believe, but now we're embarking on 2012, which means a new opportunity to do things differently… to do things even better!

Woman writing down New Year's resolution

Before you start making exhaustive lists of what you want for yourself for 2012, reflect on your proudest moments of 2011. What are some of the highlights? What would you have done differently? Large or small, recognize your achievements and acknowledge the opportunities where you learned some valuable lessons. This helps to link your worth to who you are, not necessarily based on what you look like (although if you were satisfied with your appearance, by all means, celebrate it!).

Try not to make one-time "resolutions." They sound so idealistic, but can become self-defeating, and are often broken very, VERY quickly. What can be much more effective is developing a one-page calendar of monthly (both personal and professional) goals, with four to five sub-goals that can be easily viewed from a common place in your environment (I keep mine on the desktop of my computer, right there to motivate me whenever needed).

Each of the goals should be definable and achievable. If your goal is to be more healthy, instead of telling yourself that you want to "lose 10 pounds," consider adding in things like "meditate every morning to get centered, 30 minutes exercise three days/week, eat (x) amount of fruits/vegetables/whole grains per day." If you don't have a plan to get to a healthy place, you'll become completely discouraged when the 10 pounds do not fall right off of your body (plus, isn't long-term health more important than just being skinny?).

For financial goals, instead of coming up with a definite number that may not necessarily be realistic for every paycheck, consider saving 10 percent of what you earn. 10 percent is a very doable amount and provides a nice reserve for when you need some extra cash. Of course, if you can't get to 10 percent, consider five percent, or even saving every other month. If you're a parent, perhaps you can dedicate more uninterrupted time with your family (yes, that means you have to put down your phone and stop texting, checking email and posting on Facebook!).

In relationships, take more time with your man/woman and commit to better communication and a deeper understanding by learning A LOT more about each other to increase the passion in your relationship (you'd be surprised to find out how many people really don't know about the past experiences of their significant other!).

At work, if you're looking to advance your position, set goals to reach out and network with (x) number of people, research available positions a certain number of hours each week, or a deadline to when you would consider leaving your current job.

Regardless of the type of goal, add it as a reminder of what you want for yourself for the month/year. Don't worry about filling up the entire calendar because you may want to modify it as the year progresses and in review of what you have accomplished. If you don't meet a goal, push it to the next month. Any struggle is an opportunity for self-growth when you challenge yourself. Remember, life is a work in progress. This is YOUR journey, so be sure to develop goals based on what YOU want, not what other people expect of you. Identify what barriers are holding you back, and enlist the help of a therapist to help you create the best version of yourself. Celebrate all accomplishments and mourn any losses; enjoy all of the good things that are to come when you set new expectations for yourself!

Welcome 2012. You've got this.

Dr. Lyndsay Elliott is one of Southern California's most prominent psychologists in her field of expertise. Dr. Lyndsay maintains her clinical practice in Newport Beach, California. As a food and body image expert for the last 15 years, Dr. Lyndsay is known for her break-through work with children, teens and young adults. She particularly enjoys consulting with parents to help develop a healthy self-image for their children. Dr. Lyndsay empowers individuals with her ease, strength and experience, ultimately propelling her patients into a new arena of growth, control and balanced living. Check out Dr. Lyndsay's daily tips and blog at www.DrLyndsayElliott.com, on twitter @DrLyndsay, and Facebook at Dr. LyndsayElliott, Inc.

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