In my practice, I often meet people who find that they’ve misplaced the ability to move forward in their lives.  They feel dissatisfied with their existence and they don’t like how they feel. Although day-to-day functioning may not necessarily be a problem for them, they just aren’t as happy as they’d like to be.  Quite simply, they’re ‘stuck in a rut’, wishing that they could get more satisfaction out of their lives, but without an effective plan to make changes for the future.


Obstacles to change:


Some of life’s ‘trickier’ problems are often the subtle ones.  They don’t necessarily need immediate fixing, yet they can exist in the background for months or years. For example:


-Procrastination: (“I should do that tomorrow”) can result in inactivity.


-Denial: (“I just don’t want to think about that because it’s too depressing”) can cause a person to ignore truly important issues.


-Daily routines: (job, household activities) can tempt us to focus only on immediate details while ignoring the bigger picture in our lives.


Adjusting your outlook:


An important first step toward making personal changes is to develop an appreciation that over a life span, a person has just so much time to live.  But the quality of a person’s life may be even more important than the quantity of it.  This raises an important question: Do you want to ignore opportunities to better yourself, or will you instead begin to take greater charge over the direction of your life?  You don’t need to wait until the New Year to make a commitment to personal progress.


A few tips to aid personal change:


- Take some quiet time to jump off the ‘hamster wheel’ of daily routines and reflect on the direction you’ve allowed your life to take – are you spending your life the way you’d truly like to?


- Take a personal inventory and make a list of the positives and negatives in your life as well as outlining specific goals that you choose to achieve.


- Break down your goals into attainable short, medium, and long–term categories in order to achieve them in a step-wise fashion.


-Remember that good intentions are worth very little unless they’re linked to action. Don’t wait for motivation to knock on your door; if you take action first, motivation will soon follow.


Some final thoughts:


Performing this type of personal maintenance is a powerful way to live in a conscious, intentional, and focused manner.  It can help people to take active control of their lives rather than having life simply act on them. The sense of accomplishment obtained from setting and pursuing new directions in life can often lead to enhanced self-esteem, increased personal satisfaction, and greater happiness.    


John Ernst, PhD, LPC, treats children, adolescents, families, individual adults and couples. He is presently accepting new patients. To establish an appointment, please contact Dr. Ernst at 414-329-7000.


John Ernst, Ph.D.

Talks About....

Terry Bruett, EdD

Talks about...

HEAD SHOT-1 %281%29




If parenting was going to be easy, it wouldn't start with something called labor!  Children do not come with instruction manuals. Remembering that children are a joy and a blessing can make the parenting process a joy and a blessing. Certianly, it is a challenge!


The goal of parenting is to raise children to become happy and productive adults. Parents need to see the day to day trials as merely steps that will eventually meet that goal. In doing so, not only will they end up with wonderful, grown-up adult children, they can also be proof of themselves as productive and successful parents, Their success will be passed on to their children, giving them the opportunity to be successful parents also.


Rewards from children can be found daily in their love, hugs and smiles, Those are joys to be had, enjoyed and embraced. Parents should look for those rays of happiness every day and remind themselves how precious their children are.


Each child is different and each child requires different parenting approaches. One size does not fit all. One parenting style is not necessarily appropriate for another child. There are, however, some constants that parents need to realize as being critical in the parenting process. The first constant is the most important. Always let children know they are loved. If children know that they are loved, they will develop a positive self-concept that will be critically important for them throughout their lives.


The second is consistency. Parents need to be as consistent as is humanly possible. While perfection is unreasonable, the more consistent a parent is the easier the task of parenting will be. Parents need to constantly remind themselves of the overall principles and values they are trying to teach in order to remind themselves of the parenting plan.


Realize that each parenting decision is not crucial. Parents are trying to instill values and beliefs for their children to use in their adult years. This is an important concept for parents to keep in mind while involved in the parenting process. It is the accumulation of parenting decisions that will make the difference in how children develop and mature. The more parents can keep their emotions out of the process the easier it will be. Getting angry at children for their attitude or behavior will not be helpful or productive.


Remember that parenting is a job and a joy. Someday these will be the 'good old days' when the parents and children talk about those early years. The conversations of those trials and tribulations are something to look forward to later in life, especially when children begin to parent their own children.


Dr. Bruett is currently accepting new clients at the Waukesha location, (262) 544-6486