As parents, we want to set a good example for our kids and new year’s resolutions seem to offer a great excuse to do that.
Each year, we work out personal goals and some family goals. Some common goals are eating healthier, exercising more, saving more money, giving to charity, getting organized and being good to one another.
These are terrific ideas and if you’re able to stick with them throughout the year, you’re doing better than about 92% of the population (according to Forbes). If you have a plan and let go of perfection, you have a better shot at it but it can still be pretty grueling. The hardest thing about resolutions is that most people will not only not reach their goals, they’ll actually slip backwards for their efforts. They set the goal, give it their best try, find they can’t do it perfectly, beat up on themselves, quit and feel so guilty they dive head first into a chocolate cake or hit the mall for some soothing shopping – which, of course, leads to more disorganization and debt.
There are coaches, teams and organizations that can help you with your goals. Most often they’ll reframe the goal to try to make it seem more pleasant – or to help you see the benefit. Or perhaps it involves setting up a plan and being held accountable. But when parents do this with children, it seems a lot like nagging to everyone involved.
If you feel like it’s time to try something new, you might want to consider creating a bucket list instead – individually and as a family.
The bucket list is most often the domain of the dying, but it’s really about accomplishing all we want to while we’re here. Why save all that good stuff until the end? Why teach our children that we have to create impossible standards that are miserable to try to reach and then punish ourselves when we can’t get there? What if we taught them that life is about discerning what adventures we want to have and making them happen?
It can seem like a foreign idea, but it can be fun. Sit down with your family and talk about what you’d like to do – no limitations – and make a list. When starting a bucket list, we tend to “yeah but” ourselves into writer’s block. It sounds something like this – “I’d LOVE to go to Japan but the airfare is really expensive and I could never get time away from work.” Skip the self recrimination and write down “Japan.” When we become aware of our dreams, it allows us to tune in and hear about opportunities. Perhaps there’s a conference or a contract or a chance to volunteer. But you’ll never be open to it if you don’t acknowledge it.
As you go, fill in the details. How long do you want to be in Japan? What do you want to do there? Who do you want to go with? And help your kids do the same thing. They can create their own list and help the family make a list too.
Some families even enjoy making a vision board where they put up pictures of things they’d like to do. Then keep it posted where everyone can see it.
The striking thing about all of this is that most often, those puritanical resolutions wind up getting taken care of in the process. If you’re going to Japan, you’ll need to save up money and get organized to go. And you’ll likely lose some weight hiking around enjoying yourself. If you go as a family, it can improve your relationships and bring you closer.
Imagine this time next year, reviewing your accomplishments with your family. What dreams came true? What do you want to cross off your bucket list next year? What else do you want to add to it? At the end of the year, your closet may not be organized and you may still be 20 pounds overweight, but you will have truly lived. What a wonderful example for the kids!