Polling family and friends (and our personal past resolutions), we find that “New Year's Resolutions” don't tend to result in lasting change. Why then, each year, do we continue to use the New Year as an opportunity consider beneficial adjustments to our upcoming year? The New Year is a rhythmic time, meaning we can count on a fresh beginning with the coming of each January. It is a natural time to look over the past year in gratitude, happiness, mourning, confusion, or concern, to see our greatest accomplishments and our deepest regrets. It is a time to bring what was hidden away back to light, and forgotten achievements back for celebration. So although traditional “resolutions” can be doomed to failure from the beginning, this is still the time of year to reflect on the past and prepare for the future.
Can we consider a new approach for setting our personal resolutions this year? We will see if we can beat the system and inspire lasting, beneficial progress in our lives!
We think of our New Year's Resolution(s) as a new item on our to-do list to be obeyed. But most of us don't have much capacity for another to-do. Not to mention, not one of us has perfect dedication or self control, and our inevitable resolution “misses” end up in our neglecting the resolution all together. We get caught up in the to-do and assume we either “do” or “don't” follow through, and when we discover that we can’t, have not, or don't want to fully commit, our resolution blows away with February's cold winds.
That's a bleak outcome for these resolutions we give time and energy to creating each year; how can our resolutions thrive and impact our lives, families, homes, workplaces, and relationships the way we intend them to? Personally, this year, I'd love to put resolutions on the back-burner and do some brainstorming (or dreamstorming as I like to call it!) toward things we see as possibilities for the upcoming year. No to-do’s attached – simply dreaming of scenarios of us and our families, functioning in new strengths we're pursuing for the New Year!
Here are a few examples to get your creative, dreamy juices flowing:
- I'd love to laugh with my family more often.
- I picture having the energy to run around freely with my children in the yard.
- I see having more wiggle room in my morning/evening to give extra attention to my spouse for him to know the love, appreciation and respect I have for him.
- It would be awesome to rediscover a personal hobby and have fun on my own or with friends.
- I see our family becoming more engaged in conversation and activity with one another.
- I can picture mealtimes full of smiles, unhurried and healthy – a time we look forward to each evening.
- I can see myself setting appropriate, attainable and challenging goals physically, and rising to the occasion to meet and exceed my goals.
- I would love to read the books on my reading list.
- I love to picture my children eating healthy meals without complaining.
- A full, sound night’s sleep each night would be amazing (not a possibility for nighttime nursing mothers quite yet, sorry!)
These are only a few of the many ideas that drift into my mind when reflecting on needs, desires and hopes for our upcoming year. It can be fun to dream of personal growth and for growth of the little ones we love so much. As we look at the above list, it all looks dreamy and somewhat out of reach. Is it possible to bring any parts of our “dreamstorming” session into the reality of our New Year? Yes! The beauty of beginning with the dream phase is the heart, intention and determination of the resolution that comes from the dream. That makes the resolution more than just a to-do. Instead, it’s a stepping-stone to reach a goal that will meet a need or desire personally, for your family or both! This removes the “do” or “don't” mentality, knowing from experience that all goals, and growth, require you to keep going through success and failure. When we “fail” to comply with our resolution, we can remember the big-picture of the “why” of our particular resolution, and keep working toward the goal.
Let's explore some specific resolutions that may be born out of some of the above dreamstorming:
- Institute a weekly game night with focused family time, age appropriate games and favorite music. Dance party anyone?
- Increase physical stamina by working toward these goals daily/incrementally: holding a 5 minute plank, forward fold with straight legs placing palms on floor and 5 minutes of continual cardio exercise such as jumping jacks or jumping rope. Maybe even include the kiddos for some extra fun and laughs!
- Make an effort to show love to my spouse each day – an unexpected hug, cup of coffee or tea or even a little note in the car or bathroom sink.
- Fit in some friend—time on a regular basis: yoga, healthy recipe exchange, crafting, hiking, favorite movie—watching, dinner out, etc.
- Limit screen time to allow more time for conversation, play and family meals.
- Set a meal plan at the beginning of each week to decrease nightly meal prep stress. Incorporate more vegetables (raw and/or cooked) at mealtimes, before meals for appetizers or as snacks.
- Set aside 10 minutes every day for physical activity and stretching.
- Wind down each night with a book (well, most nights… sometimes other things come up).
- Talk to my kids about the health benefits of vegetables and encourage them to try new things. Try adding vegetables first thing in the morning – think frittata recipe – at their hungriest. (Stop stocking the unhealthy go—to snacks that the kids will ask for after not eating their healthy food.)
- Set myself up for success for a good night's sleep by: reducing screen time right before bed, cut back on late—night sugary snacks, get exercise during day and resolve conflicts before bed.
Again, these are just a sample of the possibilities for resolutions that start from dreams. Feel free to grab ahold of one of these dreams and resolutions if time is short and yours line up with mine! But also, feel free to toss mine out the window, using them only to spark interest and ideas, but using your past year and your upcoming year for your own personal guide through “dreamstorming” and creating your resolutions. Enjoy this season of reflection, dreaming and planning! Hit “refresh” this January and take part in lasting growth for 2018!