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This Year I Will ...    by M. J. Ryan order for
This Year I Will ...
by M. J. Ryan
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This small book by the author of The Happiness Makeover gives sound advice and tips on 'How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True'. It's organized into short chapters, to be read consecutively or referenced individually for ongoing support. And I love the author's selection of inspiring quotes, beginning with the Japanese proverb, 'The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.'

This Year I Will ... is divided into major sections (based on five stages of change considered by social scientists): The Adventure of Living Your Dreams; Preparing to Change; Getting into Action; Keeping Going; Twelve Tips for Keeping Your Promise to Yourself; and Conscious Self-Creation. Ryan addresses the 'rosy blush of good intentions' that usually wears off quickly, but asserts her belief that people can change if they work hard at stretching themselves mentally, emotionally and spiritually - rather than expecting results from 'seven-day wonder programs'. As she reminds us, we typically expect too much too fast, and then give up too easily.

Ryan encourages us to look hard at the need that current behavior is addressing, otherwise we will be unable to change it. She discusses envisioning to get the emotional brain - as well as the thinking brain - working. She tells us not to compromise goals to 'what seems possible or reasonable'. There's no perfect time; don't wait for it. She recommends a practice from a Buddhist teacher to deal with self doubt, and quotes a joke with an embedded lesson: 'There are five frogs on a log. One decides to jump off. How many are left? Five - because deciding isn't doing.' She offers tips on how to focus on a goal, and recommends kaisen, 'a Japanese strategy for change that relies on tiny, continuous improvements.' She advises making a contract with yourself, tracking progress, organizing a support system, making contingency plans, reflecting on what works, appreciating yourself, and persisting past failures.

Ryan suggests that readers reference her book as a companion to change, while working on 'something you want badly enough to keep front and center in your life'. If you're struggling with such a goal, you'll find in This Year I Will ... an invaluable selection of tools for your journey. Why not take that first step? As M. J. Ryan reminds us, 'Each of us has the opportunity to change and grow until our very last breath.'

Listen to a podcast interview with the author at

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