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Ask the Expert: Focus on New Year’s Resolutions and Self-Care

Many thanks to Licensed Psychologist Lori Chortkoff Hops, Ph.D. for being our Guest Blogger in January!


LoriHops-promo-051013Have you heard this type of complaint before?

It’s the New Year, and I try to set goals to improve my life for New Year’s Resolutions. I start out OK, but before long, I skip a few days, and then I stop altogether. It seems I feel worse about myself because I tried and failed. Is there anything I can do to keep the goals going well past January?

Fret not!  You are not alone.  Many people face this same situation when setting goals for themselves throughout the year. We generally are more aware of goal setting when focused on New Year’s Resolutions.  The New Year offers the promise of a new beginning. We have confidence that this year will be different, and we will be focused on success!  But what happens when we face obstacles, or lack of motivation? Often we give up too quickly, and grow cross with ourselves. What’s a well-intentioned person to do?

Number One: Know Your Goal

The first step in solving a problem is to understand it. Rather than being overwhelmed by a challenge and then giving up, look at the problem one piece at a time.  Most New Year’s Resolutions are about self-improvement.  Since most people come up with similar goals (e.g. nutritional changes, exercise, enjoying life), you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  One website that can help is Popular New Year’s Resolutions.  You can click on a link that offers advice and resources on the goal of your choice.


Number Two: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!

Many people stop short of their goals because they take on too much at once, and have unrealistic expectations.  Instead, set a small achievable goal that does not ask for much change.  After a few days of success, gradually increase your goals.  By the end of several days, you are on your way to starting a new habit, and because it is gradual, it feels easy and simple.


Number Three:  Reward Good Behavior

Starting a new goal is not the time to launch into self-criticism and self-doubt. Instead, treat yourself gently, and with positive rewards.  It may feel silly at first, but it will pay off in no time.  Find a small reward or fun activity you like, and give it to yourself every time you work on your goal. Change the reward to keep it fresh.


Number Four: Don’t Go it Alone

Find someone with the same goal as yourself, and make it a team effort.  Choose a family member or friend, or you can look online.  The web site offers FREE community support for goals, or you can pay a fee for coaching from experts.


If you still want more tips on self-care, consider attending one or both of the upcoming Self-Care workshops at the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara in Westlake Village, CA.  Fill Your Mind, Body and Spirit:  A Self-Care Series, is designed to take your self-care goals to the next level.  The first class (January 22) will highlight your self-care profile, working around obstacles, and offering on the spot tips to help turn it around. The second class (January 29) will focus on a variety of mind/body/spirit based approaches designed to create a better you. Both of these classes are free for cancer survivors and their loved ones and caregivers.

Lori Chortkoff Hops, Ph.D. (PSY 14335) is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Westlake Village. She can be found at




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