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December 16, 2009 > Counseling Corner: Renew and Re-Do Your Career and Relationships This Winter

Counseling Corner: Renew and Re-Do Your Career and Relationships This Winter

By Anne Chan, PhD, MFT

We are approaching the winter solstice, which marks the shortest day of the year. For many cultures, it is a time for reflection, renewal, and rebirth. The longer nights of winter prompt us to go inward, both literally and metaphorically. As we seek warmth indoors, we can also search inwardly for ways to regenerate our lives and careers. This winter, I want to encourage you to think about different things you can do to jumpstart and rejuvenate your life, career and your relationships. It's cold, dark, and rainy outside - the perfect time to do some active reflection, renewal, and rebirth.

Think about what you want out of your career, life and your relationships with your partner, friends, and children. What are some patterns of behavior that you'd like to change? For instance, you might want to stop being chronically late to work or appointments. In your marriage, you might want to stop getting angry so quickly. Or you might want to stop unhealthy eating habits.

Reflect on the changes you'd like to see in yourself and in your life. What are some new habits and behaviors you'd like to see in yourself? Perhaps at work, you'd like to develop leadership skills. Or you might want to learn a new technology that you haven't had time to learn. Maybe all is well on the work front, but you need to spend more quality time with your children and family.

Think of ways to renew yourself, your career, and your relationships. Renewal includes taking the steps to learn new skills, adopt new patterns of behavior, as well as stretching to challenge your limitations and brave new fronts.

One way to renew your career is to take a class to upgrade your skills. You can learn a new computer programming language, take a professional development class or ask for new challenges at work. Inexpensive classes abound in the greater Tri City area - look for them at community colleges, adult schools, and in city recreational guides.

Another way to renew enthusiasm for your work is to mentor someone new to the workplace. Teaching, coaching, and mentoring newcomers not only helps them, but helps rejuvenate your interest and commitment as well. Ask your HR about mentoring programs in your workplace or just simply take someone under your wing.

You can renew your relationships with loved ones by thinking about the kind of relationship you want to create and taking active steps to make it happen. You can jumpstart this by having a real conversation with your partner when the kids are in bed and the television is off. Discuss each of your needs and take steps to meet those needs. Or you can go for couples counseling for a relationship tune-up in a safe, supportive environment.

You can renew yourself by taking a risk in facing your fears. I don't mean jumping out of an airplane, but if that's your cup of tea, then you can certainly check out iFly in Union City. But there are other things you can do to face your fears and even make new friends along the way. For instance, if you are terrified of public speaking, an easy, non-scary, and even fun way to develop public speaking skills is to join a local toastmasters group. Or if you've always been afraid to speak your mind, consider taking an assertiveness course.

Volunteer your time to a cause that means something to you. Volunteering is a wonderful way to renew yourself, discover new interests and meet caring, dedicated people. There is a great need for volunteers in a variety of capacities right here in the greater Tri-City area. Check out to find one that fits you.

Another fun way to learn something new is by becoming part of the "One Book, One Community" reading program sponsored and organized by the Fremont branch of the American Association of University Women. The 2009-10 book is Animal, Vegetable Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. You can read the book at your leisure and participate in discussions of the book right up till February 2010. See for more information.

Renew your family by making tiny shifts in the way you structure your life, marriage or family life. You don't have to make dramatic changes to change the flow of things. Small, doable steps like having a family meal once a week or going for a date night once a month can do wonders. Taking just five minutes to organize your desk can be motivating as well as inspiring for your work day.

Think of rebirth as creating the life you've always wanted and becoming the person you want to be. Think about the things you've set aside in your life - things you said you'd do "when you have time," "when the kids are grown," or "when life gets less busy." Perhaps this winter is the time to do the things you've always wanted to do but set aside. NOW, not later, is the only time you have. Make a list of ten doable things to make this happen.

I know it has been a rough year for many people and companies. Many of you are out looking for work, many have been furloughed, and others are fearful of getting a pink slip. The stress of the economy has severely impacted families and relationships. But even in the cold darkness of the winter, we can take the opportunity to renew and regenerate ourselves. Wishing all of you a happy holiday season surrounded by friends and loved ones.

P.S. I am working on an upcoming article on mentoring. If you or your agency is involved in mentoring in the greater Tri City area, please contact me.

Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union City. She specializes in helping people find happiness in their careers, lives, and relationships. She can be reached at 510-744-1781. Her website is

(c) Anne Chan, 2009.

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