A New Year, A New Suggestion

The New Year is a time when many people think about doing things differently (more commonly known as making New Year’s resolutions!)

The reality therapy emphasis on personal responsibility leads logically to the idea that we can choose more effective behaviours, leading to improved personal satisfaction. Thus, we resolve to “do something differently,” and the New Year is as good a time as any to take some action.

After a high-spending holiday season, some will decide to change their money-handling habits. Other folks will focus on improving a close relationship, modifying exercise habits, spending their time in more need-satisfying ways, or simply improving their outlook on life.

Thus, January brings new gym memberships, diet plans, strictly constructed budgets, and promises to spend more time with friends and family. However, if you find yourself making the same resolutions year after year, you already know that these actions don’t always bring the hoped-for results. If so, you’re not alone!

How can we make those new resolutions more effective?

Here’s a suggestion to help you gain perspective: Keep a log of what you are currently doing.

What you ‘do’ is the component of your behaviour that you can most easily change (as opposed to what you think or feel.) When you keep a record of what you do, it’s easier to see clearly which of your actions help your situation, and which actions don’t.

In his book Reality Therapy, Dr. Robert Wubbolding states, “a precise accounting…can lead to improvement.”  So keep track, write things down, or in Dr. Wubbolding’s words, keep a precise accounting.

If you want to lose weight, keep a log of exactly what you eat. If you want to gain better control of time, write down how you spend each hour of your day. If you want to have better control over your money, write down exactly what you spend (making sure you include everything.) Make this a regular habit for a while.

What then? Once you have written your log, you’ll be able to evaluate what you have actually been doing, rather than your perception of what you do. Perception is deceptive. You might think you’re eating only healthy foods, that you spend hours helping your children with homework, or buy only essentials.  Unless you write it down, it’s easy to gloss over those extra cookies eaten, trinkets purchased, or hours spent in front of the TV.

So whether what you want is to improve your exercise habits, to improve your performance at work, or even to improve an unsatisfying relationship, try keeping a ‘precise accounting’ for a few weeks. After you’ve collected some information, we’ll take a look at how you might evaluate what you’ve learned.

Have you ever kept a log of what you are doing in some aspect of your life? How has that worked for you?

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