Ask Paul at the RSIC: Set realistic expectations to embrace change in 2018 |

Ask Paul at the RSIC: Set realistic expectations to embrace change in 2018

By Paul Snyder | Special to First Nation's Focus
Walk, eat, breathe with intention and purpose in 2018.
Photo: Getty Images

RENO, Nev. — Client: “2018 is going to be different for me!”

Me: “How?”

Client: “I’m going to lose 40 pounds, run a marathon, stop drinking and using other substances, only eat healthy vegetables, save $10,000, get a college degree, and fall in love with the perfect person!”

Me: “Wow, that’s a lot. What happens if you don’t make all of those resolutions?”

Client: “I’ll probably go back to the way I was, just more depressed because I failed.”

Me: “How will you feel?”

Client: “Like a loser.”

Me: “Take it easy. All of these are admirable goals and you deserve the best. Let’s work together on suggestions for how you can keep your resolutions or progressing towards them.”

Client: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Let’s look at saving money. Your goal is saving $10,000. That seems like a lot of money. However, if you can save $192 weekly for a year, you will hit your goal. How much weight would you need to lose per week to be 40 pounds less?”

Client: “Less than a pound a week. Yes, that’s doable!”

Me: “Yes, the goals you can control are all doable, just break them down into smaller goals, which will add up to big goals.”


Setting realistic expectations

Many times if we set unrealistic expectations, we hurt our self-esteem when we don’t make our goals.

Let’s be gentle with ourselves this year. Let’s involve other people with our goals to help us fulfill these dreams by creating a realistic plan, being accountable and having a motivator.

Let’s concentrate on what you would like to change within you first and work on the material stuff later. Have you ever noticed everything that is produced started with a single thought? The same applies to each of us!

We are a product of all of our past thoughts and behaviors. So, if we change our thoughts, we change our feelings, which will change our behaviors … which will change our lives!

Remember, just like the $10,000 example, every day we make a deposit in our account we get closer to our goal. We can use the same philosophy for our personal changes.


Ideas for 2018

Below are a few thought change ideas. Circle the personal commitments you would like to use in 2018:

  • Positive self-talk — talk to yourself like you would talk to a dear friend or relative.
  • Be kind — to yourself and others in your thoughts and behaviors.
  • Write a letter instead of texting or emailing.
  • Visualize success — recognize how this feels and revisit that feeling often.
  • Pray for the best outcome for everyone: Especially if you don’t like them, pray for them.
  • Communicate with family often.
  • Define your beliefs and values and behave consistently with them.
  • Answer the question, “Who am I?”
  • Define your conception of your Higher Power and make your Higher Power your friend.
  • Listen to your body — it never lies.
  • Allow you to feel good — exhale and just be for a moment.
  • Stop “shoulding” on yourself — decide what you need to do to get what you want.
  • Don’t waste time — find peace in boredom.
  • Walk, eat, breathe with intention — they’re all free, and you have to do them anyway.
  • Consume health in food and messages; be careful of where you are receiving your information.
  • Monitor young people’s mental, emotional, physical, spiritual health through the media messages they are receiving. You paid for them.
  • Don’t allow cellphones and computers to raise your children.
  • Define your favorite sound — shut your eyes and just experience this sound often.
  • Create something, like art or music; write a story; or plant a tree.
  • Be clean and organized in home, work and play.
  • Put good tires on your car, have the brakes checked and keep your windshield clean.
  • Stop unhealthy behaviors.
  • Stop catastrophe thinking. It takes just as much energy to think of happy outcomes.
  • Respect yourself and others in thoughts and behaviors.
  • Give healthy options — sometimes the healthiest option is not participating.
  • Exercise your mind and body.
  • Save money — there is freedom in financial security.
  • Ask an Elder what life was like when they were your age. You will learn a lot.
  • Laugh more.
  • Make your self-motivation one of giving versus taking. It’s the difference between mature and immature.
  • Help someone who is struggling.
  • Tell clean jokes.
  • Work — show up early, do a good job, get along with everybody and leave on time.
  • Commit to your relationship, family and community.
  • Smudge with sage, cedar, sweetgrass or other herbs of our Mother Earth.
  • Join a Circle of Recovery.
  • Live with a warrior philosophy this year; to be as strong, smart and able as possible to protect elders, youth and people who are not as strong, smart or able as you.


Bringing it home

Now, place your commitments somewhere that you will see them every day, practice them and see how your life changes!

Life is what you make of it. It all begins with your thoughts. Change your thoughts and change your life! This year, listen to your body, take care of your mind and look for healthy productive ways to give to your community, your family and yourself!

“Ask Paul” is a health column by Paul Snyder, MA, LADC-S, a Substance Use Counselor at the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center. It publishes each month in The Camp News, the monthly newsletter for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony community. Have a question for Paul? Email him at