Posts tagged “new year’s resolutions

This Is Your Life


The two days labeled as December 31 and January 1 are two of the biggest choice theory days of the year! We make a big deal out of these two days – one day representing a reflective farewell, the other representing a determined new beginning. There can be other important days in our calendar year, unexpected challenges that call on our choice theory prowess, but these two days roll around every year. And every year they seem to invite us to take a look back, to take stock of ourselves, to self-evaluate, and then to make a plan and set a course toward goals we see as important.

A song called This Is Your Life seems to capture the most important element of this reflection and self-evaluation. The lyrics acknowledge yesterday – the new wrinkle on our forehead and the way in which we may have let others down – but they emphasize that today is really all we have. “This is your life” the lyrics remind, and then just as powerfully ask, “Are you who you want to be?”

Our minds may be thinking about a lot of different things – how to eat better, exercise more, love others more fully, be less selfish, reach out to others more, do something for yourself once in a while, do better at arriving at appointments on time, talk with your mother without getting upset, watch less TV, to name a few. We can get so caught up in these “symptom” behaviors that we lose sight of the bigger picture. All these smaller behaviors revolve around the big question, “Am I who I want to be?”

One thing choice theory points out is that it is possible, in fact, likely, that we will have conflicting pictures in our Quality World. The Quality World represents the area in our brains where we store pictures of any person or any thing that satisfies a Basic Need. There is nothing that says we can’t place things in our Quality World that satisfy a need, yet aren’t good for us. I can have a picture in my Quality World of not eating high fat, high sugar food, and I can have a picture of cake in there, too. (Maybe the incredible lemon cake I described in the June 14, 2014 blog post.) Both of these pictures are need-satisfying in some way. I like the idea of eating healthy food, and I like the idea of eating unhealthy food.

A piece of cake from the Social Work consecration reception at PUC yesterday.

The apostle Paul seemed to really capture the angst of conflicting pictures in his letter to the Romans when he wrote that –

I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. Romans 7:18, 19

A lot of us can relate to this angst.


Choice Theory agrees with Switchfoot, the band who wrote This Is Your Life, in that today is indeed all we have. Fuming about the past or worrying about the future will not empower us to answer the important question, Are you who you want to be? With this in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind as we let go of 2015 and plan for 2016.

Admit It
It’s good to admit that for some reason ineffective behavior is need-satisfying. Ineffective behaviors are often (maybe always) self-medicating. Healthy or unhealthy we do these behaviors for a reason.

Make a Plan
Make a plan that is realistic and reachable. Overnight, complete makeovers don’t qualify as realistic or reachable. A good starting point might be just selecting a time during the day when you can center, balance, and focus on the important. Call it meditation, call it devotional time, call it whatever, but set a private time for centering and strengthening.


Replace Ineffective Pictures
Instantly eradicating a need-satisfying behavior, even one that is destructive, is hard to do. It is more doable when we come up with a new or different behavior to take its place. This takes some creativity, but it is worth the time.

Small Steps Are Fine
Taking small, consistent steps toward a goal is a good way to make significant change. Huge, immediate victories are great, but such a mindset can lead to huge defeats, too.

Don’t Let Slip-Ups Derail You
Don’t let slip-ups and mistakes keep you from re-evaluating and re-engaging in the plan. Slip-ups are common and are to be expected. You will sleep in instead of going to the gym; you will criticize a loved one; you will eat the lemon cake. Instead of guilting yourself and throwing out the plan because of your mistake, celebrate that it didn’t feel right when you behaved the way you did – whether it was overeating or vegging out in front of the television – and get back on track with a new plan.

Never give up
Never give up on yourself and never give up on the important people in your life. Every day of the year can be a December 31 when it comes to self-evaluation and change.



For those who may be interested, here are the lyrics for This Is Your Life:

Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes
This is your life and today is all you’ve got now
Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be?
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose
Yesterday is a kid in the corner
Yesterday is dead and over
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be?
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
This is your life are you who you want to be?
This is your life are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed it would be
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose
And you had everything to lose


If you have read the Glasser biography, Champion of Choice, I encourage you to post a brief review on Amazon. More reviews will encourage others to check out Glasser’s ideas.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser's ideas and his career.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser’s ideas and his career.

Wisdom from Christmas’s Past


The holidays are uniquely wonderful, in that they are (to name a few) a reminder of that which is most important in life, they bring loved ones and families together, there is a lot of giving going on, and the music and decorations are cool. (Well, most of the music and decorations.) The holidays are uniquely challenging, too, in that they remind us (to also name a few) how far we have drifted from that which is most important in life, they bring families together, in spite of the anger and pain directed at each other during the past year, there is a lot of taking going on, and the music and decorations are .  .  . well .  .  . cheesy. Over the last several years, The Better Plan blog has addressed the holidays through the lens of choice theory. The links to these posts are included below. May they be a help during this wonderful time of the year!




New Year Resolutions were covered in –

I’m Makin a Change, Dagnabit! Pt. 1

Dagnabit! Pt. 2




Keeping our eyes on the Reason for the Season was covered in –

Choice Theory and Christmas


The S actually stands for Self-Control.

The S actually stands for Self-Control.


The challenges that so many face during the holidays, and how choice theory can help, was covered in –

The Holidays Require All of Our Choice Theory Superpowers




Here’s a heads up on a link worthy of your attention. Dr. David Hanscom, the spine surgeon who writes so effectively about the Mind Body Connection, shares his thoughts on, what for many is, the pain of the holidays –

Happy Holidays – Not

Choice theory certainly affirms the importance of the mind body connection. We are, as the Bible says, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” How the mind affects the body, and vice versa, continues to be studied, even as answers remain elusive. For me, it is clear that our ability to make choices when it comes to our thoughts and our behavior is a key to our living in balance. Life is difficult, and there is no way around it. For some, the holidays distract us from the difficulty, while for others they do just the opposite. In either case, choice theory can help. Check out the links above. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Seek gratitude. Reach out to others.


The Glasser biography, Champion of Choice, is a good read. Really. The book traces the development of Reality Therapy and its connection to Control Theory, as well as control theory ultimately becoming Choice Theory. A unique self-help book!

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser's ideas and his career.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser’s ideas and his career.


Hey, 2013! I’m makin a change, dagnabit!

More than any other time of the year, New Year’s has us thinking about choices. What follows are some choice theory thoughts as we ring in 2013.

We call them resolutions. When day 365 of 2012 is over we want a new beginning on day 1 of 2013. We know what we want, we know what’s needed, and we make a promise, a commitment. And not just any promise. This is really a promise, dagnabit! In spite of the intensity of their intention, for many their New Year’s promise goes by the wayside and the old habit rushes back in to fill its rightful place. As sincere as we are when we identify a new behavior that we want to become a part of our life, it may be that external control thinking is setting us up for failure.

External control thinking is based on a stimulus-response approach to life. This approach relies on the belief that people can be manipulated through well-placed rewards and punishments. Most of us know this approach pretty well. We were raised with it (often by well-meaning parents), and it was used on us in school. In fact, it seems to be everywhere. Choice theory explains that external control is destructive on so many levels. When used in management external control strategies ultimately reduce the quality of the product being sold, whether the product be a service or a thing. And more importantly, whether it is used in the workplace or at home, external control harms relationships. This seems to be especially true when it comes to the relationship we most value–that being our relationship with our spouse. A therapist once shared with me that over 90% of his clients would rather be right than married. I think it would be even more accurate to say that his clients would rather be in control of their partner than connect with him/her in unconditional acceptance.

Externally controlling behaviors are so destructive to relationships that they are referred to as deadly habits. Examples of deadly habits include criticizing, blaming, threatening, punishing, and bribing. To get others to fulfill our expectations (or even just to gain a slight feeling of control) we rely on these habits. Over time we can become especially good at one or two of these ways of being. It is interesting and sad that so many of us stick with the deadly habit approach, even as we can see that they don’t help us get what we really want. (What we really want is intimacy with our spouse–spiritually, emotionally, and physically.) I guess that little feeling of control we get when we use a deadly habit is worth it to us. Maybe it’s pride, too.

So, what do the deadly habits have to do with our New Year’s resolutions? Just this. For those of us who have marinated in an external control world, we not only apply the deadly habits with our colleagues and loved ones, we apply them to ourselves. We criticize and blame ourselves for eating too much, or not exercising enough, or not praying enough, or watching too much TV. And we bribe, threaten and even punish ourselves when don’t behave accordingly. I am convinced that the deadly habits work no better on ourselves than they do on others. The sincerity of our desire and the intensity of our commitment cannot overrule a foundation built on external control.

The key is understanding that we were designed by our Creator to be internally motivated and controlled, rather than controlled by others or circumstances outside of us. We behave in ways that are need-satisfying to us. Take note here — I didn’t say we behave in ways that are good for us. We behave in a way that satisfies a need. Coming into an understanding of our needs and the ways in which we satisfy them will help in our efforts to make better choices. Berating and bullying ourselves may have some short term success, but ultimately our success lies in understanding our internal control design.

More when New Year’s, Pt. 2 is posted.

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