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Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D.

In the wake of the floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and radiation leaks this spring, we‘re struck by the realization that changes in the Earth present in many ways. At times they‘re gradual or sudden and violent. They can come from the forces of nature or the actions of human beings. They can be unexpected and out of our control or planned and anticipated. In any case, the havoc they wreak can affect millions. The effects of the natural disasters this spring alone have impacted the world economy and may continue to do so for months to come.

How do we come to terms with the tremendous power of Mother Nature? Given the current discussions about whether or not there actually is global warming - and, if so, whether it’s due to man or the earth itself - you may be left feeling confused. Perhaps we can acknowledge the power of nature and still recognize our role in the process.

And in your personal life, you can use this same outlook. Focus on what you can control in your life and what you can accomplish, not what you can’t. In the heat of the moment, enthusiasm about making a change - protecting the earth, creating stronger family relationships, making the world a better place, loosing those stubborn last pounds - can be great. But what happens the next day? You know that inspiration is not enough - you need to implement your decision in a definite way. You can build on it by shifting your routine, following through and transforming yourself. Here are 8 tips on how to go about it:

1. Acknowledge your ability to change.  Recognize that there may be limits to what you can accomplish but that you can take it one day at a time. Give yourself permission to begin the process by setting a realistic goal, without expecting perfection in your results.

2. Write out specific goals for yourself and break them down into smaller, more manageable short-term objectives.  Set up a timeline for tackling each task. The more you formulate your plans and establish concrete steps, the greater the likelihood that you will follow up on them.

3. List your personal resources and inner strengths.  This process will help you attain your objectives and eventually achieve your goals. Draw on them as you have when you've made other changes in your life.

4. Make a public commitment to the change you are pursuing.  This will help you take yourself and your decision seriously. And it will increase your motivation to continue the process even when you face barriers along the way.  

5. Maintain your energy by rewarding yourself for each objective you accomplish.  Use an intermittent reinforcer - lunch with a friend, an evening at the movies - even as you keep your focus on the future goals you are striving toward. Positive reinforcement will keep you motivated to continue your process of change.

6. Draw on the support of family and friends.  They want you to succeed and will give you the help you need. Join with others who have similar goals - when you enlist someone to share your journey it makes the whole process more fun.

7. Don't beat yourself up when you backslide.  Change can be overwhelming and you need to be patient with yourself. Refine your strategies as you learn from your mistakes. Have a Plan B ready and continue to improvise as you discover what works best for you.    

8. Enjoy the satisfaction and feelings of power that come from making real changes.  You've earned it! And you can use your new skill set to achieve success in other areas of your life as well. If you're a Sandwiched Boomer, resolve to use these tips to take better care of yourself.

Remember, even if you can’t influence the circumstances, you can control how you handle them. Search for solutions by clearly defining your goals and aspirations. Letting go of negative thoughts and unrealistic expectations free you up to make something positive come out of a negative situation.  

© 2011, Her Mentor Center

Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. are family relationship experts who have developed a 4-step model for change. If you are coping with acting-out teenagers, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law, we have the solutions that make family rifts disappear. Visit our website, [Link Removed] to receive practical tips and our free e-book, “Courage and Lessons Learned.”


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