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Setting realistic goals for 2012

Published 8:29pm Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions? I was watching a TV news program last week that featured some expert in “self acceptance.” Huh?

Although I didn’t get to see the entire interview, due to some family interruptions (imagine that in my house), the expert’s general message seemed to be if you’ve been making the same resolutions year after year then it’s better to just accept that you just can’t change that area of your life and move on.

I’m just not sure I agree. I think a better alternative would be to figure out why you keep missing the mark and work toward resolving it. For example, if your New Year’s resolution for the past five years has been to loose 15 pounds, perhaps you need to re-evaluate why you want to loose the weight in the first place.

Most people want to lose weight because it’s medically advisable or they want to look better, feel better, etc. OK, so instead of focusing on the losing weight aspect of this look at other things that are a little more active toward the overall goal.

Instead of saying, “I resolve to lose 15 pounds;” say, “I resolve to walk 2 miles 3 times a week.” Or “I resolve to cut my soda intake down to 1 soda a day.” These will both work toward the losing of the weight goal, but are more direct and create a plan for the original goal.

I find it interesting when people make a resolution that involves someone else. I had a friend several years ago that her resolution was to teach her teen- age daughter to sew. When I asked if her teenage daughter wanted to learn to sew, my friend looked at me and said, “Well, I don’t know, but I want her to learn to anyway.” Ummm, I see a problem here.

My friend did try to teach her daughter to sew. It was miserable for both of them. It was like teaching a pig to sing. She wasted her time and annoyed the pig! I finally asked her one day why it was so important to her that her daughter learn to sew. She told me it was because she had learned from her grandmother and had spent many happy hours bonding with her grandmother over the sewing machine and she wanted to share that with her daughter. After thinking about it, she gave up the sewing idea and found something she and her daughter could share and bond over. Again, look at the ultimate goal of your resolution.

Now this doesn’t mean a family can’t have a collective resolution. In fact, this is a great time to sit down with the family and talk about what needs to change in the family. However, it has to be a family decision. I suggest picking two to four areas of the family that could use a boost and then voting on what everyone thinks is the most important.

Perhaps everyone needs to work on putting things back where they belong, or everyone needs to get up an extra fifteen minutes early to make time for making beds, or completing morning chores before school and work.

The next step is to make a plan on how to achieve the goal or resolution. One idea is to make a chart and after meeting the goal consistently for one month then the family earns a special outing.

OK, so what about children themselves? Should they have resolutions? I think so. I believe when children are old enough to understand they have the power to change things in their own lives, then it’s time they made a goal or resolution for the new year.

This is also a great time to help them plan how to meet that resolution. For example, if a child’s resolution is to turn in all homework on time, then help the child examine why they don’t get the homework in on time in the first place. Is it because of a lack of organization? Is it because they have too many extra-curricular activities getting in the way of homework? Is it because they just don’t understand the material and need some tutoring? By doing this you’re teaching your child to examine their lives and learn to find answers to their problems.

I also think it’s a good idea to post the resolutions on a bulletin board or family message center, assuming they are not too personal. If there is someone in the family that doesn’t want theirs posted you can always list their resolution as “private.”

This way the reminder is still there, but it’s not public. I think we also need to remind the “nosey” members of our families that “private” means just that “private” and they can’t hound the information out!

I pray each of you has a blessed new year.

 

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