2019 Resolutions? Don’t!

As we move into what could be a wonderful and exciting New Year I thought it would be fun to look at the traditional Top 10 resolutions and then give you some tips on how to be more successful in meeting them. These are from Statistic Brain.

  1. Lose Weight/Healthier Eating
  2. Life/Self Improvement
  3. Better Financial Decisions
  4. Quit Smoking
  5. Do More Exciting Things
  6. Spend More Time with Family/Close Friends
  7. Work Out More Often
  8. Learn Something New On My Own
  9. Do More Good Deeds For Others
  10. Find The Love Of My Life

NEWS FLASH! According to Statistic Brain, the average American has a 9.2 percent chance of keeping them.

But don’t lose hope!

A few days ago, I was on Facebook and saw a message that one of my friends had posted and it got me thinking. The quote simply said:

You are not born a winner.

You are not born a loser.

You are born a chooser!

So choose wisely!

The key to making and keeping resolutions is to have Sustainable Motivation and Energy.  How do you do that? The key is to be clear about what you want, and why you want it. When you understand your “what” and your “why,” you will increase your chances of being able to experience success with some of your resolutions.

Michelle Segar, from the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organization has developed a practical way of streamlining this process.

Segar suggests four action steps to begin applying the Right Why to changes you want to make in 2018:

#1: Reflect

Consider your “whys” for initiating a lifestyle change, and ask yourself if it has symbolized that this change/behavior is a chore or a gift?

#2: Reset

Know that we’ve all been socialized to think about and approach “healthy” lifestyles from the same perspective, one that has turned them into medicine instead of the vehicles of joy and meaning that they truly are – let go of any sense of personal failure because the formula we’ve been taught sets us up for starting and stopping but not sustaining. People feel like failures, and this is very bad for motivation.

#3: Choose

Consider the specific experiences, that if you had more of them in your day, would lead you to feel better and drive greater success in your roles. Do you feel drained and need more energy? Do you need more time to connect with loved ones? Then pick one of these experiences – this is what the Right Why is – and identify what lifestyle behavior might deliver it to you. It’s important to focus on changing one behavior at once because the goal is to institutionalize it into our lives. Humans have a limited capacity for decision making so we must strategically use it as the limited resource it truly is.

#4: Experiment

Experiment with a plan for one week to see what happens, including the types of things that get in the way. Plan a date on your schedule to sit down and evaluate whether that behavior helped you realize your Right Why and also what you might want to tweak going forward. Because it’s an opportunity to learn, there is no failure. It’s about continuing to experiment with whys and ways to achieve them until you discover what works for you.  From Sustainable Motivation for New Year’s Resolutions, by Chris White.

Here is ancient text to consider as you move into the New Year. It is found in Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

I hope that 2019 is a year filled with opportunity, hope, and joy. May God Bless

Recalibrate or Stagnate: The Choice is Yours!

How are those New Year’s resolutions going? In the interest of full disclosure, I am at about 60%, which, at least for me is not too bad.

The New Year is a time when so many of us consider making some changes in our lives; some people are looking to make some small changes others are looking to recalibrate, to reinvent themselves.

On the downside 80% of us will abandon most of those resolutions by mid-February, but what about the 20% that do keep them. So what are some ways to maintain those decisions, to recalibrate?

Resolution makers who have a measure of success move from thinking about making some changes to doing what it takes to make them hold. They intentionally move from a contemplative stage to an action stage.

Most of us have excellent ideas, ideas that will work. It might be to write a book, start a business, make some personal changes, or to suggest some changes in the workplace. The issue is that most of used a pretty lousy job of doing what it takes to execute those ideas. I know in my life, this has been an area of struggle.

I recently read an excellent article on medium.com by John Manshi titled, Only Three Ways to Reinvent Yourself.
He says, “When you are looking to reinvent yourself, you need to realize that you only have two choices, change or die. I will not be physical death, but the death of a vision, or the end of a dream.”

Manshi discusses three types of reinvention, recalibration and they are the reactive reinvention, the proactive reinvention, and the reflective reinvention.

In my personal and professional life, I have experienced all three of these. Some of these recalibration phases were very difficult resulting in job loss, a dynamic loss of income and some short-term personal challenges. Other recalibration phases have led to positive, kinetic changes in my life, business, and marriage. I hope that some of my life experience, as well as my years of working as a professional counselor, will give you some insight and tools to help you make the changes, rekindled the dreams and move forward.

In this series, I am going to show you how each of the recalibration strategies work and how you can take this information and continue to make the positive changes in your life, your business and your relationship.

So, what will you choose to do? Will you choose to stagnate or recalibrate?

Let me give you a personal invitation to join my email list to follow me in this series.

Swords, Sandboxes, and Precious Memories: Transition Points

(c) 2017 John Thurman        My 2 year old pouncing on Pa.

What was your last transition point? A change at work, in your relationship, your health or you family? Life is filled with various transition points, mile markers, and life stages. Today, I am going to give you some lessons that I am learning in my most recent transition point.

On Christmas Day I surrendered my Walmart, yellow handled foam sword to my daughter’s firstborn son. This spunky four-year-old, his two-year-old brother, and their seven-year-old cousin and I regularly engage in some rough and tumble things like sword fights, pool noodle wars and other forms of tussling.

It is a reasonably predictable pattern whether they are on the phone or at the house, when they say, “Hey Pa, let’s have a sword fight.” We usually do.

My seven-year-old grandson, his father and his uncle, and I (all veterans) began doing this about four or five years ago. As the oldest grandson, he proudly taught the other two how to engage his dad, uncle and his “Pa” in these fun, healthy, life skill building, pugilistic activities.

Their mission is to take on Pa and eventually get him on the ground. Once I am down it is time to pounce on Pa, where we tussle and roll around until they “get me.”

Now I imagine some of you are already getting a little uncomfortable with this practice. Sometimes when people ask me about activities that I do with the grandkids, I tell them we go to the zoo, our Explora museum, the park, McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A playrooms, have play times and engage in rough and tumble play, and tussling.

The Importance of Rough and Tumble Play for little Boys

First, the word tussle is a common word I grew up with in Middle Georgia as a child. The word usually refers to pretend to fight, scuffling, rough and tumble play. One dictionary defines tussling as a vigorous struggle which is typically brief and typically occurs to obtain or to achieve something. In my grandson’s terms, the mission is to bring Pa down to pounce on, pile on, and roll around until Pa surrenders.

This type of behavior between fathers, sons and other appropriate male family members has been practiced since pre-recorded history.

Psychology Today had a great article in their June 30, 2015, magazine titles, Do Boys Need Rough and Tumble Play, which was both affirming and informative.

The appeal of rough and tumble play is the physical challenge of testing their strength and the exciting idea of being rugged and unconquerable. After all, how many 48 pound boys can take down a big guy like their 6’2″, 65-year-old granddad.

Among young boys, roughhousing involves pretending to be superheroes or good and bad guys. In our family, it can also mean a beautiful twenty-year-old section of English Ivy can morph into a hairy, bearded green monster which, according to our rules of engagement, may be attacked by the Troop Thurman/Ledford.

Why is this type of rough and tumble play so important for kids and grandkids? Without bothering you with a bunch of data, and there is a lot of it. The research tells us of many benefits of rough and tumble play, which I will go over in a minute. But first, let me ask you a question.

Have you ever played, tag, Red Rover, hide and seek? If you have, then you can relate.

The Benefits of Rough and Tumble Play

Because of this type of play, in particular, promotes healthy development because:

  • Children are willing participants, are usually smiling, and re-engage for more.
  • Children are learning the give and take of appropriate social interaction. Studies show boys who grow up with fathers and other suitable males who engage in rough and tumble play are less likely to be physically or sexually abusive to women as well as others who might be perceived as being weaker or more vulnerable.
  • Another benefit is this type of play teaches little boys restraint and self-control.
  • Children learn to read and understand body language (e.g., when play should come to an end).
  • It also meets many children’s need for safe, nurturing touch.
  • One of the most significant components of the type of play with fathers is how these older men, many times without realizing it, are teaching their boys a vital life lesson. Even though they are bigger and stronger, fathers “hold back” to keep from hurting their weaker opponent, an essential imprint many boys will unfortunately never experience. On a personal note, in over thirty-five years of private practice with about 30% of my time working with adolescence, I do not recall any significant levels of physical violence from clients who had grown up with experiencing rough and tumble play with family members. On the other hand, many of the young men I worked with, who had issues with physical violence either had no rough and tumble play memories, or had fathers who were disengage.
  • Finally, and some of you will surely feel like resisting me on this point, but this type of play allows fathers and other appropriate males to teach their kids some “keep safe” skills. Tools like risk avoidance, removing yourself from perceived danger, identifying “unsafe people” and even using some defensive striking or hitting techniques. I know when our son and our daughter were very young, we had a martial arts instructor teach them several defensive, strikes and moves should a bigger or older person intends to grab or harm them. I remember when Hannah, my baby girl, was about seven our pastor came over to the house for dinner. Now, he was a friend and had been to our home on many occasions. This night, during dinner, he asked her what she had been doing the day. She replied I have been in my self-protection class. At that point, the pastor asked what she was learning. I held my breath because in our home we always encourage honest communication. The pastor continued to engage her and said, “So what did you learn today?” She replied, “If a man or boy who is bigger than you is trying to hurt you or grab you, you are supposed to drive the heel of your foot into their foot and shove your elbow or fist in between their legs as hard as you can, scream, yell and run. Oh, and tell an adult what happened. The pastor smiled politely and told her he was proud she was such a strong young lady, while at the same time giving my wife and I the, “I’m not really surprised look.”

So why did I give you a mini-course in developmental psychology? Why did I surrender my yellow handled foam sword to my four-year-old grandson?

So why the title of Swords, Sandboxes and Life Transitions?

Because on the 26th of December my daughter, her husband and my two younger grandsons began their journey out of New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, a.k.a. The Land of Entrapment to their new home in the Republic of Texas. While my wife, Angie and I see clearly how the Lord has led them to this decision and transition in their life journey, I would be lying to you if I told you there was not some pain.

Like so many of you with grown children, and many more of you who are similar in age to my adult children these times are not without some challenges.

The Power and Importance of Reflective Memories during Life Transitions

On the morning of December 26th, I grabbed my first cup of caffeine infusion, opened the sunporch door to let “Gizmo” out for his morning business. While standing in the backyard two things caught my eye as I inhaled the delightful aroma of a cup of coffee made with beans from Timor, the first was the green turtle sandbox and the second was a fresh look at my backyard. Then it hit me, ever since our 7 years old moved down from Colorado back to New Mexico, I have watched him, and the younger boys spend hours in the green turtle sandbox. Memories of my little boys playing with toys, trucks, rocks, dirt, and sand. Little voices calling out to Mimi and Pa to come and watch and play with them. Cleaning up wet sandy spots where little hands and little feet had played in sand, dirt, and water and all of the dirt and debris which follows comes when they when they come inside. Seeing the excitement when they found treasure (marbles and colored stones my wife had put in the sandbox). Realizing I will not hear those little voices calling out, “Hey Pa, come see what I made, or can you come help me count my treasure with the frequency the I have become so fondly used to.

At the same time, I looked over our backyard/battlefield where my three grandsons, their dads and moms, my wife and I had fought imaginary bad guys, the Green English Ivy Monster, counted stars and eaten our fair share of smores. I loitered over my cup and had a flash of beautiful memories and realized this chapter was coming to a close. The noise of little boys was about to dramatically become quieter. It was a bittersweet, heart-swelling moment as I soaked the sights, sounds, and smells of those precious memories and moments.

While in this noteworthy moment, I noticed my allergies must have been acting up, you know the itchy watery eyes and sniffles. I guess I was having a small allergic reaction to the awareness of how we were facing this new transition. As the moment came and went I reflected on God’s goodness, mercy, and the blessings of children and grandchildren. I pulled up my cup for another sip and initiated the download for the DUO app which will allow us to get some video FaceTime with our new Texas family. I guess Mimi and I will be working on our Southwest frequent flyer miles to the Austin area.

My oldest grandson will still be here, and he is a red-headed inquisitive high energy boy who is filled with all of the excitement, wonder, and adventure of a seven-year-old. He will continue to come over and bless us with his presence, but being seven, he does not do much in the sandbox. He has graduated to climbing over our side yard concrete block fence and climbing up our apple tree to explore the world and have picnics from his perch on top of our utility shed. For those of you who are Star Wars fans, his father, myself, another male friend took him to his first Star Wars movies. As he told me the other day, “Pa I am not a little boy anymore, I am a big boy, after all, I am seven and can climb trees and do other really cool stuff. So while we will not have the same type of contact with the little boys, we will continue to fully engage with our seven-year-old and his mom and dad. While at the same time exploiting the connecting technology to stay appropriately plugged in with our other family.


I spent a part of my life in professional ministry as a minister to single adults, and I do have some understanding of some of the unique challenges you have with younger boys. I sincerely hope that you have some safe men, either family or trusted friends that can be available to your boys in these early, formative years. If you do not, I would ask you to prayer fully and wisely seek safe guys that can have some availability to you and your sons. I hope that you hear this as encouragement, because I have nothing but the upmost respect for the task you have at hand at raising your kids. May God Bless you.

Action Plan:

Would you agree that life is a cascade of transitions? As a seasoned mental health professional with over 50,000 hours in the therapist chair, I have learned several powerful, yet practical, doable ways to make it through these transitions as a better, stronger person. By signing up for my email list, you will receive regular, life-changing content as well as a free chapter from my latest book. All you need to is hit the subscribe button on the signup form.