Many people think new year’s resolutions don’t work, and that may be the case for a lot of folks. However, I think if we reframe our resolutions into goals for our lives, they take on far more importance. It is easy enough to blow off a resolution a week (or less 🙂 into the new year. If we have a goal though, it shines like a beacon in the dark to a need in our lives to change something. Change can provide hope, and hope propels progress. Humans seem to resist change with a certain degree of fierceness, yet there are things we yearn to alter to make our daily lives better.
For me, if I continued to resist change, I’d never have gotten out of my wheelchair, or lost over 130 pounds. I feared change, but was desperate enough for a different life to push myself hard to accomplish it. Now, I can beam with pride, having met and surpassed the challenges I set for myself. With higher self-esteem, I can do more in my life and for others. Homeostasis, (no appreciable change) when that place is less than I was designed to be, makes me feel worse, not better.
What goals do your kids have? How can you help them to reach their goals? First, modeling is important. You can share your goals with your kids, and they will watch you progress with those goals. Your observable behavior can inspire them to make good changes in their lives too.
For example, if you wish to stop smoking, quantify your goal by putting this big change in measurable terms.
1) I will cut down my cigarettes to 1 pack a week by Jan. 31st.
2) I will cut down my cigarettes to 1/2 pack a week by Feb. 28th.
3) I will no longer be a smoker by March 31st.
Don’t worry, your kids will keep you honest, and monitor you all their waking hours. They want you alive to dance at their weddings! They will also be your cheerleaders for change.
If your kid wants to get better grades, this is great, but vague. Have them sharpen the goal, and keep it positive, putting goals in terms of what they will do versus what they won’t.
Example: I will improve my history grade from a C to a B next semester by studying an extra two hours each week, and reading my text on time.
Children today have far more homework than their parents’ generation, and many extracurricular activities too. While goals are very important to moving their lives forward toward adult successes, it is absolutely crucial that they be given free time on a daily basis to play, do nothing, rest, be social, and be children. The downtime is necessary for learning to take hold, to give them time to ponder all they learn in school and the world, and to dream, and play.
It is essential too, for children’s mental health to not be overburdened with a ton of activities. Playing gives them freedom to fully be themselves, gain experience with social interactions, and to give free rein to their imaginations. Without downtime and play, for both adults and kids, life can become a drudgery of necessities. Then depression sets in, as well as apathy. They will only be children for so long.
Winter break should stay just that–a serious break for two weeks, to allow them to have the holidays with family and friends. All of your goals can wait to begin after winter break. Enjoy this free time with your kids, and make some new memories. Then, after they go back to school, focus on goals. Play with your kids. You need this play and the break as much as they do. Put your to-do lists down, and let the housework go. Play a game. If you have snow, go sledding or make a snowman. You won’t regret it.