Come January, it’s customary to contemplate our own transformation and plan to become the best possible version of ourselves. In the dazzle of New York fireworks and champagne one can easily succumb to resolution overblow.  In 2017 we promise ourselves, we shall change the world, travel five continents in an oyster shell, self-build an extension, outbake Mary Berry, shed half our bodyweight.…why, 12 months from now we’ll be almost perfect:  wand-slim, Titans of adventurous achievement

There’s nothing wrong with a purposeful objective or three. But if our aims are excessively grand, intention founders within weeks, or sooner if we hit high stress. We end up more displeased with ourselves than ever. So maybe this is the year to think SMART – of small, manageable, achievable, realistic targets. Globally, 2017 could be a year of uncertainty and challenge beyond our control So why not make our SMART changes where they’ll really count – close to home?

Following festive fallouts, empty wallets and disappointed expectations of mistletoe romance, January can be tough.  So be kind to yourself, rather than initiating some harsh, self–denying regime. Think in terms of adding rather than taking away. If you’ve chosen now to stop smoking, put £1 in a jar for every day you abstain.  Watch the cash grow and after 100 days, spend it on a treat –a spa day, new shoes, brunch by the sea – something you wouldn’t have done if you’d still been puffing nicotine. For good health, drink more water; train, walk or run just twice a week for starters; factor in small treats like a movie, a glass of red wine, a bath with candles to lift the winter mood. Don’t be ground down by guilt if someone does you a small kindness you can’t immediately repay: pay the favour forward by surprising someone else with a good turn. Maybe the Queen had a point when, in her Christmas Day speech, she quoted Mother Teresa on the value of ‘doing small things with great love.’

The New Year is peak time for couples’ conflict and marital stock-taking. A few counselling sessions can revive communication and remind you what’s mostly good about your relationship. But you can start right now by agreeing not to let arguments overheat.  Call a halt if, after 10 minutes, you are getting nowhere and the rage is rising.  Plan to discuss the matter in hand at a specific, later time  – when you are both calm. Talk to each other ‘in order to not because of’ – in order to get the loving result you both want, not because you are already fed up, frazzled and wanting to blame your partner. Take responsibility for your own feelings.  Catch your other half doing something right, instead of firing off a volley of criticism.  Recognise that if one of you insists on winning every time, it’s the relationship that loses.

At this time of rising teen anxiety and self harm, look twice at your kids.  Yes, they’re going to be great people – if you enhance their self-esteem. Make space for them to talk to you: be honest about problems, but also tell them what’s good about your lives.  Many kids fear growing up because they think their parents find it so darn hard – ‘if my Mum and Dad can’t manage the world, how the hell will I?’  The smartest motivational mantra of 2017 is also the shortest: be positive. Times are tough, but we live in a beautiful place, thus far free of dragons, demons and natural disasters.  A hug and a kind word still cost nothing.  And if you are just not ready to ‘be the change’ in bleak, blue January, ok then!  The skies won’t fall in. Wait for the hopeful spring, or any time in the long year ahead to kick-start your resolution. And any time you need support, counselling or coaching, krysallis is here to help…