The Secret to Setting Successful Resolutions This Year

This year most people will try setting successful resolutions as they go into the new year. Nine out of ten people will fail.

It's New Year's Eve, a time for celebrations and resolutions. If you have trouble keeping those promises you make to yourself, learn the secret to setting successful resolutions.


Now, this isn’t to make you feel discouraged. It’s very common to set up resolutions and it’s a positive exercise to help us achieve goals. January 1st is a natural time to begin. As the new year approaches, we start to think of ways we can make a fresh start. We examine aspects of our lives and ourselves we’d like to change.

It’s not that new year’s resolutions aren’t full of good intentions. A desire to grow and move toward the life you want is powerful and positive. Most resolutions don’t fail because they weren’t “good” or they weren’t the “right” resolution.

No, there’s one major reason why most new years resolutions fail and understanding this reason will help you set successful resolutions instead.

Why It’s So Hard to Set Successful Resolutions

If resolutions are so difficult and failure-prone, why do we bother? Why do we have powerful motivation each December to start thinking about our goals for the upcoming year?

At the end of each year, we often feel kind of sick of things. The days are grey, we’re in the throes of the holiday hustle and bustle. We see January coming up and we’re ready to turn the calendar page. It gives us an opportunity for a fresh start. We see that marker on the horizon and we tell ourselves, “That’s it! I just need to make it to that mark and I’ll change!”

Now, there are a variety of possible changes we may choose to make, and which resolution we choose says something about us. Oftentimes, the resolution we choose isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not the best fit for our lives. We don’t choose all that well. That’s why 9/10 resolutions fail. Only about 8% of resolution-makers will actually set successful resolutions that will stick for the year. In fact, a third of the resolution-setters won’t even make it through the first week and another third will fail by the end of the month (and it goes on from there).


Part of the reason we fail to set successful resolutions is that we’re not setting resolutions made for us. We’re looking for great new year’s resolution ideas or we’re trying to come up with what we believe a resolution or goal is supposed to be.


Some people set goals that are way too big. We may set a goal to change something overnight—you want to lose 50 lbs. You want to run a marathon. You want to make partner at your firm. You want to find the “one.”

While there’s nothing wrong with any of these goals—and many of them certainly can happen over the course of a year—simply setting a big goal is too vague. There’s no clear path to achievement or plan to forge ahead. Instead of working in increments, we’re simply throwing a big goal out there and hoping to wake up January 1st a whole new person.

On the flipside, many resolutions also fail because they’re too small. They aren’t based on a deeper reason. We may set a somewhat reasonable goal, “cut out caffeine” for example, but without exploring the reasons behind the goal, it falls flat.

If we want to set successful resolutions, the secret is to explore the bigger reason behind our goals: what does this mean to you? Why do you want this? Why does it matter to you and your life? What do you hope that goal will do for you?

In fact, exploring the deeper rationale behind the goal is even more important than the goal itself. The deeper meaning has more value than the resolution. It’s based on far more than the arbitrary marker of a change in the calendar.

Yearning for Successful Resolutions

We all want to be happier—to live lives of more joy, greater fulfillment, and deeper happiness. That desire for happiness is the impetus for each resolution we set. The problem comes from not exploring what will actually bring us that happiness we desire.

Many people experience what positive psychologists refer to as “miswanting.” We want something, mistakenly believing that it will bring us happiness. These items might be under your Christmas tree, in fact. We may believe we want an engagement ring; we want a nicer car; we want a bigger house; we want the corner office; we want to fit into our skinny jeans.

But underneath each one of these wants, we won’t discover fulfillment. Underneath these wants are simply more wants. We get a new laptop or a fancy watch, and we’re happy for a moment, but it passes. We eat celery for weeks and go to the gym every day in January but fitting in our skinny jeans doesn’t make us feel complete.


Underneath each successful resolution is a yearning. That yearning drives us toward our goal. Yearnings are powerful. They’re deeper than simple wants or desires.


How do you discover the yearning behind your resolution? Apply what we call the “so that” test. For example:

I want to fit in my skinny jeans so that I can be attractive.

I want to be attractive so that I can find a partner.

I want to find a partner so that I can love and be loved.

My yearning is to love and be loved. The underlying desire isn’t simply to “look hot,” but to find the fulfillment and joy that being loved brings.

This same test can be applied to any resolution. If you want a promotion at work, it may be so that you can gain the respect of your colleagues. Your yearning is to be respected. If you want to manage your calendar better, it may be so that you can find time to engage in volunteer activities. You may want to volunteer so that you’re contributing to the world around you. Your yearning is to contribute.

Yearnings are universal—we all have them. They often drive us toward or away from different decisions as we go throughout our lives. These yearnings are deeper than just wants. They are the fuel that moves us toward personal change and growth–the personal change we’re hoping will come through successful resolutions.

Get Your Resolutions to Stick This Year

It’s not achieving a goal or getting something we want that brings us long-lasting fulfillment. When we get something, we feel temporary happiness, but it’s fleeting. True, long-lasting fulfillment and satisfaction comes from engaging in your life fully. It’s about discovering that sense of meaning.

If your goals or resolutions have a deeper meaning, achieving them has an intrinsic value. The things that truly make people happy are personal growth, deepening their relationships, contributing to society—not just losing 10 pounds.

Now, maybe you yearn to contribute to society or spend more time with your family. You may realize, if you were healthier, lost some weight, or quit smoking, you would have more energy to do the activities you want to do. Suddenly, the “why” behind the resolution becomes more compelling. We’re not just giving up something to torture ourselves. We’re setting a goal with a deeper reason behind it.


Before writing down your resolutions, take some time for introspection. We often make resolutions rashly. We want to solve a problem immediately. We don’t look at why it’s bothering us, what we actually want and how it fits into our vision for our life in the upcoming year.


Working on the deeper vision and exploration is an important step toward setting successful resolutions. Once you’ve determined what you yearn for, creating your vision will come easily. What does your yearning look like in your life? What would bring this into your life now?

Your vision shouldn’t be a fantasy (your brain sees your fantasy as already achieved—it doesn’t process it as a planning tool). How will you change your life to bring in more fulfillment? Outline the steps and consider anticipated setbacks. What roadblocks will come up and how will you deal with them?

Explore your underlying yearnings and use them to create your vision. This will help you become motivated to take the steps you need to take. With a clear plan, you’re ready to forge ahead into a life of more fulfillment and joy in the new year.

Successful resolutions don’t need to wait for midnight on January 1st. You can start your resolution now, today. Identify your yearnings and move toward the life you want to achieve.

For more on living your best life in the new year, please visit us the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming networking event to help you make this your best year yet!


About the Author

Judith Wright receives the Visionary Leader Award from Chicago NAWBO.

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach.
She is a co-founder of The Wright Foundation and the Wright Graduate University.


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

 

2018 Energize Your Life, Ignite Your World Fundraiser Recap

On Thursday, December 6th at the University Club in Chicago, the Wright Foundation hosted its 5th annual Energize Your Life, Ignite Your World fundraising breakfast. It is difficult to put into words how grateful we are to our Wright Foundation donors, students, and supporters— and we have been blessed by the opportunity to learn and grow with each of you.

Your gifts made this year will continue to sustain our programming as we work to empower our students to become the strongest, most attractive force in their lives – creating deeper connections, nurturing bigger visions, and driving more contributions to influence their worlds for the better.

During our program, we heard from student-leaders Sahar Malik and Bilal Zaheer on how the Wright Foundation’s curriculum ignited their careers, their marriage, and their influence in their faith community. We listened as Tazima Parris shared how her coaching business exploded as she discovered that getting in touch with her own emotions allowed her to do the same for her coaching clients. We were moved by Jennifer Masi’s story of her son, Sebastiano, and how their family chose love over labels when they were faced with a difficult challenge.

Many other students at the Wright Foundation shared their own inspiring and influential stories. If you were unable to join us on Thursday, please watch the video below to get a glimpse of what you missed!

The Energize Your Life, Ignite Your World breakfast was sponsored by: Rich and Gertrude Lyons Family, Stan Smith Family, Terry Group, Pinnacle Financial, Davidoff Strategy, Natural Elements Salon, Torque Digital, and Stamm Technologies. Thank you to our generous sponsors.

We know there are more powerful stories to be shared. We would love to help you share your story of how the Wright Foundation helped you to learn, grow, and transform by hosting you with a group of 10 of your friends, family, or colleagues. You can share your story while learning more about Wright’s mission to create a world that works for everyone. If you’re interested in participating, please contact Taylor Volk (taylor@wrightfoundation.org), Philanthropy Manager, to learn more. If you want to see what the Wright Foundation can do for you, visit Wright Now. Get the life you deserve!

 

 

How to Have Happier Holidays with Your Family

Awake or asleep? How do you want to navigate the holidays?

Wondering how to have happier holidays with your extended family? The holidays are a challenge, but here’s how to survive (and actually enjoy your holiday season).


Whether you’re going to a family gathering, work get-together, or social function, the holidays are a busy time…and sometimes the busyness translates into stress. The stress is compounded by unfinished business lurking in the dynamics of our family circles. This constant hustle and bustle zaps our energy and leaves us feeling less-than-joyful. We forget what the holidays are all about. In fact, many of us may wish for them to just be over with.

But the holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with friends and family. It’s an opportunity to fill our lives with joyful experiences and stronger connections; all we need is a shift in our approach. So, this year, rather than reaching for the eggnog to zone out, here’s how to engage with others, zone in, and bring more meaning into your holiday season.

If you want to have happier holidays this year, the choice is up to you.

Navigating Through Sticky Holiday Situations with Family

When I was very young, my sister and I were sitting at the kids’ table one Christmas. I believe my sister was about five-years-old at the time. Like many children, she didn’t operate with a filter yet. Typically, she said whatever was on her mind.

A family friend brought their much-doted on, fluffy little terrier to dinner and put his dish right next to my sister, thinking Fido was joining us at the table. My sister piped up and said, “I like dogs, but not THAT much!”

Now, what happened? All the adults erupted in a nervous, uncomfortable laughter. Someone shushed my sister. But the truth was, while her comment was probably a little insulting to the dog’s owners (who were lovely family friends), it was coming from a place of pure honesty. She simply articulated what the rest of us were thinking. The adults might have had sympathy on the surface, but they still gossiped and rolled their eyes about a dog at the dinner table. So which reaction was really any better?


How many of us go into social situations, afraid to pipe up when there’s a dog at the table? We hold back, afraid to say what we’re really thinking. We don’t express what we want and we shy away from conflict.


This means we end up making excuses for avoiding the in-laws. When we do end up at a party, we might feel stressed, annoyed, angry, and resentful. We may feel upset with our spouse for dragging us to a function we didn’t want to attend.

When we experience these resentments and frustrations, it leaves us feeling drained, tired, and less-than alive. We drink another glass of champagne. We watch TV. We wait for it to be over. And these feelings aren’t limited to holiday functions.

As NY Times columnist, Sean D. Kelly wrote, “Think of the way that life really can become lifeless. You know what it’s like: rise, commute, work, lunch, work some more, maybe have a beer or go to the gym, watch TV. For a while, the routine is nurturing and stabilizing; it is comfortable in its predictability. But soon the days seem to stretch out in an infinite line behind and before you. And eventually, you are withered away inside them. They are not just devoid of meaning but ruthless in their insistence that they are that way. The life you are living announces it is no longer alive.”

This holiday season, choose aliveness.

Getting Past What We’re Avoiding

A lot of people are going to drink their way through the holidays. It’s not because they’re happy. It’s because they don’t know how to deal with it. Even those who don’t imbibe still turn to screen time and other soft addictions to help them cope. We turn on the football game, we blast the parades, we pack in distractions because we simply don’t know how to be fully alive and present with others—particularly our families.

If we’re alive and present, we’re going to follow our yearnings. If we follow our yearnings, we’re going to speak up like my sister did to our dog-owning friends. We assume it’s better instead to “keep the peace” but it doesn’t truly bring us peace internally.

We all have family members who button-hole people at the holiday dinners. The uncle who drones on and monopolizes the conversation to all who will listen. Aunt Suzi prattles on and on. She catches peoples’ ear and talks endlessly about topics no one else cares about, while the audience member scans for an exit. We know a simple question leads to tragic entrapment. So instead we avoid.

If we end up in the next room, we find Mom and Aunt Ann gossiping and complaining about the men. Then we run to the next room with the kids who are whining about the adults. We’re simply wandering through, looking for a way out. As the game matures, everyone learns to put on a stiff upper lip, a social look, and save their judgements for the car.

Once they get into the car they unload. What happens? A fight erupts.

This was always the case with my family. A two-hour odyssey “over the river and through the woods” (or in this case through Chicago and past O’Hare) to get to the family was filled with tense anticipation. My father wasn’t looking forward to seeing my grandmother, who had a high-pitched voice like nails on a chalkboard.

The whole way to visit family for the holidays the fight would get going. Not because my mother didn’t agree, but because she was very enmeshed with my grandmother. They spoke so often, in fact, my father bought my mother a shoulder cradle for the phone (back in the days of “landlines”) so she could do dishes and housework while my grandmother prattled on and on—otherwise, she may not have ever gotten anything done.

Meanwhile, my grandfather didn’t like my father because he’d “stolen” his baby girl and was less affluent than they felt she deserved. It took years for my grandmother to realize my mother had actually made a wise move to marry for love.

So, there we were with all this unfinished business driving on the highway; my father upset and irritable; my mother downplaying her own irritation with my grandparents, even though she knew as well as we all did, it wasn’t a pleasant situation.

But on we went, and it was miserable every year.

Now, were we all wiser back then, we would have realized the unspoken feelings and resentments that were building up weren’t letting us feel the joy of Christmas. We weren’t engaging. We weren’t connecting. In fact, there was nothing about the spirit of the season to be found.

Honesty Brings Happier Holidays

The truth is, being honest is the key to bringing about happier holidays. Now, this doesn’t always mean a brutally honest verbal knockdown and drag out around the yule log. When we go into a situation with our emotional guns ablaze, we rarely resolve anything.

But embracing honesty throughout the year will help you have happier holidays. Even if it seems too late to start this year, it’s not. Express your feelings to your spouse about the situation BEFORE you get in the car and head to the events. Agree to a time limit or come up with a codeword when Aunt Suzi corners one of you and starts chatting. Use the time to connect more deeply with your partner and have a little fun with the situation. See yourselves as allies, who are in the situation together.


Beyond the holidays, commit to more honesty and greater aliveness in the new year. This means honestly acknowledging and appreciating the positive aspects of your life, your family, and your relationships.


It also means honestly expressing your feelings and engaging in productive conflict as you work FOR the better of the relationship. It may help to remember, one of the Rules of Engagement from our book, The Heart of the Fight is to fight FOR rather than against. Another key rule is to assume good intentions on the part of the other party.

When your father-in-law starts proselytizing about politics or your sister offers up thinly-veiled critiques of your job, operate with honesty but engage with them as a chance to learn. Can you empathize with their point? Can you ask them to help you understand where they’re coming from? How can you learn more about who they are? View it as a chance to learn something new about yourself.

When the dust settles, another key to happier holidays is to really use them as an opportunity to reflect on and appreciate what was good over the past 12 months. Create a ritual where you reflect on the transformative experiences you had this year, including holiday time with family. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about your loved ones?

Use these insights from your reflection to plan with more intention in the next year. How will you bring more aliveness to your life? What will you carry with you into the future? What will you leave behind as you let go of the past year to help you move forward?


This time of year is a powerful opportunity for visioning and setting your intention and dreams for the year ahead.  The same is true for all of us (including your family).


If you’re looking for an opportunity to experience happier holidays and engage with your family during events, use these dreams as a platform for conversation. It’s extremely interesting to discuss with family members their dreams for the next year. Find people in your family who are doing something and talk to them about their dreams and goals. Support them in following their dreams. Support them in stepping out on their own. You may not have the nerve to step out on your own in the past, but you may encourage a younger family member to have the courage to live their dreams.

You can be fully alive and in the spirit of gratitude for the holidays without being “polite” or lying to those around you. In fact, embracing honesty is key to having happier holidays. Use the challenging situations to discover and learn more about your relationships, your family and yourself.

Give purpose and meaning to the holidays and give purpose and meaning to how you want to develop yourself. You might not dive into all of the chaos of the family dynamic or resolve all your issues in one visit but operate with honest and openness as you mix and mingle this holiday.

For more on how to live with more honesty and intention, visit the Wright Foundation website. Join us for an upcoming networking event where you will connect with others and learn more about yourself. We also want to announce the availability of many of our courses for download. Don’t miss out on the special introductory price for many of our courses and lectures.


 About the Author

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

 

 

How to Reduce Holiday Stress and Have a Happier Season

Recently I was talking to a friend who said, “Winter is tough for me. How do I keep down all these negative feelings?”

Wondering how to reduce holiday stress? ‘Tis the season for loneliness, hustle, bustle and stress. Here’s how to take a step back and bring the joy back into the season.


She had recently lost her mom. They were very close and with the holiday season at hand, she was struggling to find her footing. Every box she opened and ornament she put out seemed to contribute to her sense of loss and sadness.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year…yet, many people also report an increased amount of stress and sadness. For some, it’s the pressure of the season to purchase gifts, fit in activities, and keep up with the hustle and bustle. For others, it may be their first year following a divorce, a breakup, or in my friend’s case, the loss of a loved one. These experiences contribute to wintertime struggles.

So, how can we reduce holiday stress and have a happier season this year?

Combating the Winter Blues

When I’m asked how to stave off negative feelings, I always encourage the person to take a step back and reassess. When we feel something not-so-great, whether it’s fear, anger, sadness or hurt, there’s often a tendency to want to squelch those feelings down and turn them off.

But it’s important we remember our feelings are there to protect us. It’s not that we need to stave off our feelings. Maybe we simply let our feelings be there. We can sit with our feelings and hold them for a bit. We can be mindful and aware of how we’re feeling, without fighting it.

Today is a grey day outside. We recently had snow, but it’s overcast and dark. It’s cold. When I woke up this morning, like many people, I noticed I wasn’t feeling the same energy I’d feel on a bright sunny spring day. So, when these grey moods happen, we can simply notice them. Don’t try to turn the feelings off. Let them be there, but also, don’t get lost in the mood.

Take a cue from the way children handle emotions. When they experience sadness, what do they do? They cry, they yell, they really feel sadness. And then when they’re done, they move forward. When those emotions are allowed to come to the surface, we can feel them, acknowledge them and then release them.


It’s not about avoiding the feelings as though they were bad, or wrong to feel—let ourselves really experience the emotion.


Often when we fully feel our feelings, they become less stressful. We’re no longer fighting them or trying to turn them off.

The other key is to build up a reservoir of the goodness we experience, even in the dark days. We can even think of it like a game as we go out in the world and “find” positive experiences to add to our collection—it may be a smile in the elevator, a funny conversation with a coworker, the taste of your favorite peppermint candy. These little, positive moments reassure us there is beauty and goodness in the world. They help us build our sense of wellbeing.

Our goal shouldn’t be to talk ourselves out of our feelings, but to balance them out.

The Importance of Giving Thanks

There’s lots of research on the importance of really giving thanks. The benefits of gratitude are now scientifically proven to boost our mood and help us increase our sense of joy and well-being.

As humans, we have a negativity bias. Consider the last time someone gave you feedback on a project. Chances are, they could have said 10 positive points about your work and one or two areas to work on. When you walk away, what do you recall and focus on? The criticism.

This is a natural occurrence that was linked to our very survival years ago. We needed to be aware of what was bad, problematic, and dangerous, simply to stay alive. Footprints from a predator, rustling leaves, a sign of disturbance—these could all indicate we were in danger.

These protective mechanisms are still there in our wiring. We naturally look for what is wrong. As we do it over and over it becomes habitual. We barely remember the positives or notice them, we simply focus on the negative. We become Teflon for the positive, where nothing sticks, and Velcro for the negative, where we cling to everything.


We can recalibrate ourselves to start to find light in the darkness. We don’t need to look for big momentous things, either. We can find the moments of goodness everywhere.


The wonderful aspect of the winter season is with the impending holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to notice goodness and joyful moments.

Savor your senses—a warm cup of tea, for example, can add to your positive sensory experience. You need to hold those sensory moments for 10-20 seconds to really let them be with you. Breathe in the positive moments. Acknowledge the good and send a little prayer or word of gratitude to the universe for the beautiful moment.

Building a Holiday Season that Brings Us Joy

Whether we’re experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one, the pain of a break up, or other difficulties during this time of year, we don’t need to shy away from it. In fact, part of the beauty of loving someone is that when we lose them, it hurts. That sadness and upset is part of the experience. We can accept and acknowledge it, rather than trying to turn it off.

If our memories are especially raw, it’s important we anticipate how tender we may feel. There will be waves of sadness or hurt. There may even be feelings of anger. It’s natural, and it will happen. When we experience them, it’s okay to really feel them to the fullest.

But we don’t need to dwell in our sadness. We can take the responsibility to create a season for ourselves. What is it that you truly love? What gives you a sense of joy and warmth over the season? Add more of those activities to your day. Give yourself more of those moments that bring you joy rather than dwelling on what’s not there or what cannot be.

Similarly, take the pressure off yourself to create the “perfect holiday.” We focus so much on the pressure, we forget the pleasure. This is especially true for busy parents of young children who may feel there’s barely a moment to think, let alone feel the holiday spirit.


Rather than focusing on presents and obligations, consider the question, “What would make me happy this holiday season? What would I like to give myself?”


If you’re feeling the pressure, forgo some of the extras, whether it means drawing names in your family instead of giving everyone a gift, or paring down your social calendar. Take the burdens off.

You may realize that, for you, it’s about cultivating a stronger connection with your loved ones or enjoying the beauty of the season. Perhaps for you, the spirit of the holiday comes when you’re enjoying a frosty ride on a sled, admiring holiday windows, or hearing music swell through a beautifully lit cathedral. Focus on the activities and moments that really fulfill you and bring more of it into your life this holiday season.

If the stress comes from spending time with family members or the in-laws, have the conversation well before the event. You may need to discuss your feelings with your partner openly and honestly, even if it’s difficult. Aim to resolve the situation to meet your wants and needs rather than going to an event feeling cranky and upset, which won’t be enjoyable for anyone. Perhaps you need to split your time with families or limit the amount you spend. Get it out in the open so you can reduce holiday stress and have a jolly season as well.

If you’ve had a strained relationship with family or tension that didn’t get addressed before, chances are it will come back up. If you plan to spend time with your family, allay some of the worries by having those challenging conversations and clearing the air.


Embrace honesty this holiday season. Get your feelings out in the open. Add moments to reduce holiday stress throughout the whole season.


Pick up a Christmas story to read through on the train as you journey to work. Enjoy a holiday hot chocolate. Call a friend. Listen to beautiful music, admire the lights and smell all the delicious scents of the season These little meaningful moments are powerful ways to ground ourselves and reconnect.

Whether you’re struggling to make the holiday season a little brighter for yourself after a difficult year, or you’re simply wanting to better cope with the stress of the season, take the time to nourish yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over stress—remember stress is there because you care about others and want to have positive experiences. Reframe the stress to focus on building connections, enjoying moments and surrounding yourself with the beauty and love of the holiday season.

For more ways to add light to your life, please visit us at the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming networking event to help you make this your best year yet!


 About the Author

Judith Wright receives the Visionary Leader Award from Chicago NAWBO.

Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach.
She is a co-founder of The Wright Foundation and the Wright Graduate University.


Loving the content and want more? Follow Judith on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.