Welcome to the time of year when everyone is claiming a brand new year is ahead. Everyone is going to save a million dollars this year. Everyone is going to lose five, ten, fifteen or even fifty pounds this year. Everyone will make all their dreams come true because one year has ended and another begins. That is until they don’t. I’ll admit I barely pay attention to anything someone says they’re doing in January because I chalk it up to a New Year’s Resolution. Now don’t go getting offended. If you make New Year’s Resolutions good for you (as long as you keep them).
The thing is a New Year’s resolution usually doesn’t really get accomplished. That’s why I don’t make resolutions. I do start my new year off with setting goals and even though she is only four I try to get my daughter involved in setting her own goals. Setting goals is how we make dreams into realities. They require planning. They require action. And sometimes they require tweaking (not to be confused with twerking).
Children learn what they live so make sure they are living well. And I don’t mean necessarily surrounded by things. What I mean is make sure their foundation is secure. Make sure that when you are pouring love and life into them you are giving them your very best examples. Sometimes I listen to my daughter playing in the background as I work and I hear her on conference calls, running to meetings and events and loving on her baby dolls. You know why? Because that is what she is living. She knows her mama is building a business while helping someone else maintain theirs. Sometimes she huffs off of her play phone because her boss asks her to do something that she finds simply ridiculous and I see what I must look like when I get off of the phone with my boss at times.
When it comes to celebrating the new year, I want her to know that entering a new year has more importance than just a pretty dress and some bubbly drinks at midnight (sparkling apple cider for her). Listen those things are a very important part of bringing in the new year and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Still, there is so much more.
A new year means that we are given a blank slate. We can start over or pick up some place we’ve already been. The thing is we can’t wait for the clock to strike midnight because if we haven’t already set goals we will be sadder than a coach turning back into a pumpkin. When the clock strikes twelve we must be prepared for the future and we must help our babies to be prepared as well.
Last year my daughter and I began taking some time to reflect on the year we were leaving in order to set goals for the year ahead. Yes, at three years old she did this and enjoyed the time spent with mommy. It is also a great way to look back next year and see how much stays the same and how much changes.
If your child is old enough to spell and write you can each do this individually then come back and share with each other. If they are on the younger side then sit together and discuss the following questions. Even if your children can write alone you might choose to do it as a discussion piece. I recommend keeping notes as a way to return to the goals throughout the year and see if everyone is on track.
Here are the questions you and your children should answer:
1. What is the greatest lesson I learned this year?
2. What was my biggest challenge this year?
3. What did I love most about this year?
4. What do I want to learn next year?
5. What do I want to get better at next year?
6. What do I want to share next year is?
Once everyone has answered the questions don’t stop there. Like I said goals become reality through action. Once you and your family have decided what each person wants to learn for the upcoming year figure out how to make that happen.
Let’s pretend someone said they want to learn a new language. Don’t let them stop there. Have them be specific. Identify what language they want to learn. If you can afford classes then look into the cost and if there is a class to fit the family member’s schedule. If you don’t want to pay for classes identify other ways their goal can become a reality. Check into free apps, friends that speak the language, YouTube. It’s the same thing with what a person wants to get better at. Be specific and identify next steps. Teaching children to be realistic can be difficult but it is also extremely important.
This exercise can be done throughout the year. And it should not be done just for the new year. If you choose to do this for the new year please remember to check in with the family throughout the year and see how everyone is doing on their goals. Be accountable to and for each other, by doing so you are supporting everyone’s goals and your own. And don’t forget to celebrate. Celebrate small and large victories. A goal met is a moment to be proud of.