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Stress Management Expert Offers Tips for Making Values-Based New Year's Resolutions

HILLSBOROUGH, N.J., Dec. 22, 2010 — Dr. Richard Blonna, author, life coach, and stress management expert, offers a simple, values-based approach for making more effective New Year's Resolutions. The formula for making values-based New Year's Resolutions is adapted from his new book, Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life, .

Blonna's approach to making effective New Year's Resolutions is influenced by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a values-based self-help approach. According to Blonna, "the biggest problem regarding New Year's Resolutions is when people base them on guilt or what others think they should resolve to do. Resolutions that are based on what other people value are doomed to fail. I often see this in relationships where people make resolutions to please their partners rather than themselves." To counter this, Blonna suggests people make New Year's resolutions based on what they value. Values-based New Year's Resolutions chart the course for the coming year based on the direction you want to take.

Blonna stresses viewing resolutions as goals. Viewing New Year's resolutions as goals that are capable of being measured through discrete action steps is a way to frame them that makes them more attainable. For example, "wanting to start exercising on a regular basis" is a goal that can be broken down into specific action steps that can be measured. Typical resolutions tend to be lofty and incapable of being measured.

Blonna urges people to remember that resolutions don't have to be limited to problem areas. People can also resolve to keep doing the things that they are already doing well and just bring them up a notch.

Blonna offers the following six-step plan for making values-based New Year's Resolutions:

1. Use a values-clarification exercise similar to the one he presents in his StressBuster Tip # 12 in the Volume 2010, issue #9 of my free Healthy Stress e-newsletter. You can retrieve it from the archived newsletters at the following URL:

2. Pick one of the values identified in the activity that you'd like to resolve.

3. Set a reasonable goal for this value.

Value identified – outdoor activities such as hiking and camping
Goal – to spend more time outdoors hiking.

4. Develop three measurable objectives for 2011 related to this goal. Remember, measurable objectives

Answer the question: "Who will do how much of what by when?"

a. "By the end of March I will have taken three short hikes or snowshoe walks in the woods."
b. "By the end of August I will have taken three hikes in areas that have proximity to water."
c. "By the end of the November I will have explored at least one new area I've never hiked in prior to this year."

5. Tell yourself the following ACT-based statement: "I am willing to sacrifice … (fill in the blank ) in the service of this value … (fill in the value).

"I am willing to sacrifice some opportunities to work overtime or spend time with my friends and family to spend more time outdoors hiking this year."

6. Accept that you might be pressured by your employer, family, or friends to defer your values-based plans to meet their needs or wants and that this might trigger an emotional response such as feeling guilty, angry etc. You can co-exist with this emotional distress and continue to move forward on your New Year's Resolution to spend more time outdoors doing what you value.

Good luck with your New Year's resolutions for 2011

About Dr. Blonna

Dr. Richard Blonna is a Nationally Certified Coach (CPC), Counselor (NCC), Distance Counselor (DCC), and Health Education Specialist (CHES). In addition to his coaching practice he is a full-time tenured university professor with over 25 years of experience teaching stress management and health counseling. He is the author of four textbooks, two trade paperbacks, and several journal articles. Video tips on how to manage stress can be seen on YouTube: His website is .

Dr. Richard Blonna
(908) 334-2543

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