In my last post, I offered some ideas for how to set effective New Years Resolutions. Although there are many folks out there who question the value of setting resolutions at all, I couldn’t help myself. I love the idea of a fresh start and a new opportunity to do a little bit better for myself and my family.
I did make some resolutions this year, and much to my great surprise, I’m still committed to them a week later. I know, this may not sound like much, but in the past I haven’t lasted much longer than a couple of weeks. (According to unsubstantiated statistics I have read in numerous online articles, only about 8% of Americans keep their resolutions.)
Several things have helped me stay focused on the changes I want to make, including some of the ideas I shared in my previous post. But there is one other thing I’m doing differently this year that helps me stay focused more than anything else: I’m tracking my resolutions with my daughters.
We each created a chart with four practices we want to work on. Each morning we review our charts as a reminder of what we want to try to accomplish during the day, and each night we talk about how the day went and give ourselves stickers and stars as appropriate.
As I think about it, there are several reasons why this seems to be working so well:
- I am often more committed to my daughters’ health and well-being than I am to my own. This is not a particularly skillful approach to my own self-care, but that’s where I am right now. By linking my resolutions chart to my daughters’, I am much more likely to follow through because I am highly motivated to work on this with my girls.
- I don’t want my daughters to inherit my perfectionist tendencies. My desire to do everything perfectly often leads me to give up on practices or challenges if they are hard or I’m not as good at them as I think I should be. We’re barely a week into the New Year, and I have already failed on some of my resolutions. But I’m not giving up, because I don’t want my girls to give up either. It’s a practice, which means we need to keep working on it to get better. (Jessica Michaelson’s post on C- parenting is highly relevant and super helpful here.)
- My daughters remind me about the charts and resolutions when I might otherwise forget. This is a fairly straightforward and minor issue, but a biggie when it comes to maintaining a daily practice. The end of the day is a busy time, and I’m often so tired and distracted by everything that needs to get done that I am prone to forgetting things that aren’t immediately important. My girls don’t forget, which is immensely helpful in keeping me committed to my resolutions.
- The girls are getting better at achieving their goals (try a new food, use their words before they cry, stay in their seats at meals, etc.), and their commitment inspires me to work harder on mine.
- Resolutions are more fun when I get to talk about them with my children, celebrate my successes with them, and pick out sparkly stickers for my chart.
What do you think? Have you set resolutions this year? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Like the idea, but feel like you missed your chance? You didn’t. I promise. As mindfulness practice reminds us, You can always begin again. Always. (Feel free to email me if you want a copy of the very simple resolutions chart I created with the girls. You can see a picture of it at the top of this post.)