Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

The New Year Brings in New Questions

DEAR NATALIE: I wanted to have a husband by 30. I turned 30 in December, and my boyfriend and I broke up basically because I gave him an ultimatum. He wasn’t ready and I was, and that was that. I’m heartbroken and lonely and want him back. What should I do? He won’t return my calls or texts or anything. He stopped following me on social media. Should I continue to pursue this or try and move on? I’m totally at a loss. -- BROKENHEARTED GIRL

DEAR BROKENHEARTED GIRL: Ever heard of that saying, “We make plans and God laughs?” Instead of putting pressure on yourself to reach these arbitrary milestones that society puts unnecessary pressure on us to achieve, why not instead dig a little deeper into what it is you really want. Do you really want him back? Or, do you really want a husband? Don’t waste energy on someone who doesn’t want to be with you. Bear in mind that this is a new chapter, a new beginning that you can focus your attention on. Instead of waiting for him to call, redirect your energy on finding happiness within yourself. A husband won’t make you happy. A child won’t make you happy. They can enhance or detract from your own contentment, but bliss must first be cultivated from within. And as you begin to radiate joy, you may find that the right person will come along to complement this new you.

DEAR NATALIE: With the New Year looming, I always try and give myself a big goal to achieve. Every year I fall short and feel embarrassed by what I didn’t do. Last year, my goal was to lose 25 pounds. I lost 5, gave up and haven’t lost any more weight. The year before that, I wanted to get a new job and move up in my profession but didn’t come close to a promotion. I’m in a rut. Any suggestions to make 2018 more fruitful? -- FRUITLESS YEAR

DEAR FRUITLESS YEAR: Instead of making one giant lofty goal that will most likely make you feel badly if you don’t achieve it, write down three attainable goals for the new year, and then write below each goal three action steps toward achieving them. It is amazing what can shift in our psyche once we put pen to paper. Just thinking about the things you want isn’t enough. You need a plan to help you follow through and stay focused. For example, if you want to lose 25 pounds, maybe the goal is to “get healthier” in 2018. The action steps could be: “walk XX number of steps a day,” “eat three to four servings of vegetables a day,” “take a yoga class once a week” ... you get the idea. By creating a map to get you to your destination, you will have a much better chance of getting there! Bon voyage!

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Don’t underestimate the power of “hello.” Sometimes we assume people don’t want to interact or get to know one another, and we isolate ourselves. But any situation can bring you closer to a new contact that may prove to be helpful in the future. So get out there and be friendly!

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)