According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. People born during a “Dog” year are said to possess the best traits of human nature, as in honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart, straightforward, venerable and having a strong sense of responsibility.

Gee, I could have told you that! Well, maybe not about the year of, but anyone who has a dog knows that they are honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart (sometimes), straightforward (get that stick!), venerable (eh, not so sure about that one) and have a strong sense of responsibility (protecting you, for sure).

What if you took advantage of this “Dog” year to check in with your best “dog” – or shall we say, best human - traits?

How honest are you? Oh, I know most of us are honest in the sense that we wouldn’t steal from anyone, or rob a bank, or anything like that. But what about with our feelings? Starting with yourself: how honest are you with yourself about how you feel about your work? Your relationship/s? Your body? Not what you grouse about with girl/boyfriends, but how, deep down, do you really feel? Because it’s only when you admit the truth of your feelings to yourself that you can do anything about a situation.

Same goes for being honest with others about your feelings. It’s not an excuse to get critical, mean and blameful, but rather an opportunity to explore – together – your feelings about any given situation so that change can occur.

How faithful are you? Not to your spouse/significant other, although that is important, but to the commitments you make, generally speaking. Starting, as always, with yourself.

How faithful are you to your commitment to get healthier, learn another skill, get a better job? Do you have a “tomorrow” attitude? Or an “it’ll never happen, why bother” attitude? Or do you regularly beat up on yourself for not living up to your commitments to self? None of these approaches serve you! Instead, learn how to better meet your commitments to self – through setting baby-step goals, or brainstorming strategies with friends/counselors, reading up on what’s worked for others. It feels great to live up to your commitments. It’s a sure path to success.

How about your sense of responsibility? Whenever something wonky happens, do you look first for someone to blame? Including yourself? Or do you, as quickly as possible, start looking for a possible solution to whatever happened? Because, in case you haven’t noticed, blame never gets anything done. Blaming yourself only makes you feel bad, and blaming others may make you feel good in the moment, but you’re still stuck with the problem/issue.

Blame is sometimes confused with taking responsibility, as if the idea of “my fault” or “your fault” makes someone responsible (you or them). The two couldn’t be more different. Taking responsibility is a first step in problem-solving, solution is the ultimate goal. Blame is just so much hot air, lots of drama with zero results.

Make this a true “Year of the Dog.” Commit to being your “Best Human” and have a stunning, successful, riotously great year!

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, consultant, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of over a dozen best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. She is the author of “Happy Healthy…Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right” (MindLab Publishing). You Matter. You Count. You Are Important. Visit,, #MeetTheAmazings, @drnoellenelson