Annual Restart: New Year’s Resolution 2016

Do you have a New Year’s resolution?

I don’t recall making a New Year’s resolution until I was probably a teenager. It seemed rather bogus to me at the time — I have to resolve to do something better? Sounds like I’m not trying hard enough in all aspects of my life, not a good feeling — and being forced to remember that at the beginning of each year, even worse. Instead of being excited for the New Year, I started to dread it. Great, it’s a new year, now I get to remind myself how much weight I should lose, how much more productive I should be, or how much I need to change about who I am. It’s already a blue time coming off the holidays, do we really need to add to it?

Thankfully, I came to my senses in my 30s and realized New Year’s doesn’t have to be about beating myself up in hopes of reaching perfection. Instead it’s an opportunity for me to figure out where I am in life, what I still want to get out of it (for me and my family), and what I think will be most helpful to make that happen.

I don’t think of them as resolutions, but as annual restarts. Just like I let my kids starting everyday anew (which is really helpful, particularly when one of them has a tough day), I look at the New Year as an opportunity to start with a clean slate. With that said, here are some of my restart challenges I give myself:

  • Try one (or more) of the following during the upcoming year: a new approach, conquer a fear, explore a new job field, try something new, make a new friend, see a new place.
  • Remind yourself periodically to be easy on yourself, you’re probably doing better than you think
  • Be more present, this life is short (even if you’re fortunate enough to live a long and healthy one). Always be asking yourself, what do you want to still do that you haven’t yet?

Lists like this make me excited and motivated. I’m not shamed, but inspired.

How do you want to restart the New Year?

I Wish…

If you could wish for anything, what would it be?

After seeing a cartoon where the main character was asked to make three wishes, my son turned to me and said, “Mom, what would you wish for?” I couldn’t help but say, “Three more wishes!” He smiled and said, “Okay, what would you ask for if you had six wishes?” I know what I would have said if I were the age of my son — more toys, or clothes, or money…whatever the wish would have been it would have included *MORE*.  As an adult, I had to think for a moment.  “Hmmm. I would wish that we all get to live a long, healthy life and no one dies from disease or tragedy.” “What else?,” my son asked, “You still have five more wishes left.” I kept going, though have to admit it was getting harder to think of what else I’d wish for. If I could guarantee my family would live long healthy lives, I don’t think I’d need anything more. “Okay…I’d wish for all of us to have fun all the time. I’d wish that all of our family members and friends are safe. I’d wish all people who were struggling would find hope or help.” I came up with my remaining wishes, but honestly it was pretty tough. The things I wanted to wish for were things I couldn’t control. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could?

After the holiday season ends, the January Blues can hit. It can make us wish for many things: for the cold and stormy weather to give way to warmth and sunshine; for a change of scenery; for a new start; for something better for us or those around us. Our wishes are endless. But what do you wish for that you can make a reality? Versus what is out of your control?

I’ve revisited the wishes I listed to my son and have revised my list slightly. I still wish I could guarantee that we’d all live long healthy lives (not in my control), but since I can’t my wish is that I make the most of each day and take nothing for granted more often (it’s not easy to do, but it is in my control), that I’d keep my eyes ‘open’ and experience what is around me more (not always easy to do, but still in my control), and find and experience joy when and where it happens more. I guess my older self still wanted more after all.

What do you wish for this year?

W

New Day, New Year

I was recently catching up with a friend who was sharing some of the challenges her family faced  throughout 2013 including illness and death of several loved ones. She shared, “I can’t wait to have this year behind me,” and with the year she had, I can understand her sentiment.

Talking to my friend reminding me of conversations I have with my children, about starting anew each day and the possibilities that it brings. On days where my boys experience being upset about something and seem unable to control how their emotions manifest: crying, tantrum-ing, fist throwing, kicking, etc., I talk to my children about alternate ways they can express their feelings: ways that will allow them to feel the emotion and work through it, without having to deal with negative consequences (e.g. losing a privilege). It’s not easy–sometimes for them, sometimes for me, sometimes for us both. I continue that while they may lose a privilege that particular day (to help reinforce their need to embrace other ways of handling themselves) that get to start fresh the next day. I do this because it helps my kids understand their are immediate consequences for their actions, and that the punishment won’t drag on indefinitely. There are times when a behavior warrants a multiple day punishment, which we sometimes implement, but my husband and I most often offer ways for our children to earn their privilege back sooner, particularly if our child can demonstrate they are making progress towards mastering a desired behavior.

As we go into the 2014, there is an opportunity for each of us to start anew: in our relationships, in our interactions, and in our responses.

How do you help your children work through their emotions? How do you help them start anew?

How to Avoid the January Blues and the Resolution Cliff

Each New Year I start off in a blue kind-of-state.  The holidays are over, the decorations are down, and the magic of the season is quickly fading away. Top that off with the expectation that each of us are to come up with a resolution to keep during the New Year makes it all the more depressing.

The end of 2012 brought a lot of talk, stress and anxiety around the fiscal cliff and the importance of avoiding it. I offer up that we need to do the same with resolutions. Resolutions tend to involve a lot of talk, which can create stress and discomfort around changes desired in our own lives. Guilt is often the motivating factor. Add that to a difficult task (e.g. get a new job, lose 20 pounds in a month, give up sweets, etc.), and then beat yourself up, or throwing yourself over the “resolution cliff”, when you fail or are derailed early on, is something we should all be trying to avoid.

The New Year is a good time to reflect and think about what’s working in our lives and what isn’t, but I’d suggest we should be reflecting throughout the year, not just at the beginning. Resolutions that require change—job, weight, living situation, relationship, etc.—can be very stressful. Any change can be. Adding new stress to your life when you just got over all the stress that comes with the holidays doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

Instead of resolutions, my husband and I decided to talk about our hopes for the New Year, hopes for our children, hopes for our family, hopes for us as a couple, and hopes for ourselves.  These hopes will require action on our part to make happen, but because we want them to happen, we’re motivated.  Not out of guilt, but desire.

And that’s a much better place to start any New Year.

What are your hopes for 2013?