For many of us, the relationships we build at work are as important as the relationships we have in our personal lives. They can be satisfying and rewarding or distressing and hurtful, depending on the circumstances.
The summer holidays are often a time of contemplation -- particularly when they coincide with the start of a new millennium. Lying on the beach, walking in the bush or lazing in the garden, we can find ourselves asking how our lives stack up.
What's the balance like between work and home? Do we have enough time to do the things we want to do? What would we really like to do with our lives? After two or three weeks away some of us will wish we never had to go back to work. For others, the return to work and normal routines will not come soon enough.
Some people are perfectly satisfied with their lives as they are, and quite happy to let things happen to them as they come along. But if you found yourself, over the holidays, thinking about how things could be different, try to capture some of those thoughts before they disappear.
A good way to do this is to get a big piece of paper and try to set out the way your life is now -- how you spend your time and how you balance the main parts of your life, your family or partner, work, hobbies and sport. You might choose to draw symbols or use words.
Once you have created this map of your life you can see the range of things you do and ask yourself some questions. For instance, where do I really want to go with my life, what excites me, what are the talents and resources I have, and what would I like to do with them? Am I happy with what I have or would I like to do other things?
It is likely that your answers will fall into some or all of the following categories. You will find things that fit really well which you would like to extend, things that you have enough of in your life, things that you have completed and can move on from, and things that are not working so well that you would like to change. You might also find that there are new things you would like to develop, either at work or in your personal life.
Once you have done this you have the material to set some goals for the coming year. You might want to do this on your own or find someone to help you -- your partner, a close friend or a counsellor.
It's a good idea to choose the priority you'd like to focus on this year, for instance your work or friendships. Start by setting small, achievable goals and try to describe them very clearly.
For example, if you decide you want to be in a new job within the next year you'll have to think about the resources you'll need to achieve your goal. Will you need support from friends or your partner? Will you need to learn some new skills?
One of the important things to keep in mind is that we bring a certain set of skills to any goal we set. Our self-confidence, ability to relate to others or, maybe, our ability to manage emotions like anger, will determine what we are able to achieve. Developing these skills and attributes can be a good place to start.
By planning in this way, and having a vision of where we want our lives to go, we can achieve a lot that we thought wasn't possible. A counsellor can help you to set goals for your life and start to achieve them.
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