Tag Archives: Goal Setting

Resolutions for Parents

By Tracey Dowdy

It’s the second week of 2020. How are those resolutions coming? Don’t worry if you’ve already gone off the rails – it happens to the best of us. 

As parents, we want to be the best version of ourselves so we can model the behavior and character we want our children to have. When we fall short, we’re harder on ourselves than we are on others and even the most self-assured among us sometimes question if we’re doing a good job. 

It’s healthy to consider the example you’re setting. A great way to model the character we want to see is through setting healthy goals that help you grow personally and as a parent. So even if you’ve fallen short or gotten sidetracked, there’s no time like the present to regroup and make 2020 a year of growth and accomplishment for you and your family. 

Make time for self-care. Setting aside time to take care of your own needs isn’t selfish – it’s healthy. Think of it in terms of emergency procedures on a plane – you put your own oxygen mask on first before you assist others. If your emotional tank is empty you won’t be the kind of parent you aspire to be. Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive – take a walk to clear your head, go to bed early, set up a date night with your partner or a game night with friends – whatever fills your tank.

Be intentional about family time. When it comes to spending time with your kids, it’s not quantity or quality – it’s both. When they’re grown and looking back on their childhood, your kids won’t care how tidy the kitchen was or even what they got for Christmas most years. What they will remember is the bedtime stories, projects you worked on together, playing games in the park, family road trips, a movie nights on the couch. These are the times that teach your children how much you love them, want to be part of their lives, and how proud and grateful you are to be their parent.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Are you even a parent if there aren’t days you’re overwhelmed and don’t know which way is up? There comes a day in every parent’s life where we hit the wall and want nothing more to tunnel under the heaps of laundry – clean or not – and hide. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When my kids were little, our friend group would trade-off babysitting playdates so that we all got a break to relax or clean our house – whatever we needed. We were all in the same boat – even if we needed to bail out our boat sometimes. It’s a simple way to engage in healthy self-care.

Date your partner. In the busy-ness of day to day life, it’s easy for us as parents to focus all our attention on our children and neglect our partner. It’s important to be intentional about spending time with one another, reminding yourselves of why you came together to build a home and family in the first place. One of the best gifts you can give your children is modeling a healthy, loving relationship with your partner. Someday your children will move out and start families of their own, and you don’t want to be left in a relationship with a stranger. 

Work on your weaknesses. Every one of us has an area of parenting where we fall into unhealthy patterns, and as you read this sentence, you’re already thinking of what yours is. Instead of beating yourself up, work on it. If you’re impatient, learn simple anger management techniques to settle yourself and keep you from flaring up. If you’re disorganized, commit to creating a calendar with digital reminders to help you stay on top of what’s coming up. There’s no shame in falling short – it’s only a problem if you choose to let it continue to derail the family. 

Finally, give yourself some credit. Look back over 2019 and think of all you accomplished. Most of us had far more highs than lows and have much to be grateful for. Celebrate your victories, learn from your mistakes, and make 2020 your family’s best year yet!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Making New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Keep

By Tracey Dowdy

If you’re like many of your fellow Americans, along with the frantic pace of the holidays comes the quiet determination to turn over a new leaf and start fresh in January. Forty percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions ranging from losing weight, getting fit, being more fiscally responsible, and quitting smoking.

Of those forty percent, research has found that only 75% keep the resolution past the first week, 71% past two weeks, and after one month, there’s only 64% hanging in there. By the time June rolls around, only 46% are still plugging away. That’s less than half of the original group. Ultimately, only 8% of those who make resolutions actually achieve them.

So what’s the secret? How do some manage to hang in there while others fade out so quickly? The answer can be found in science.  Dr. Michal Ann Strahilevitz says that most resolutions fall into one of four categories – self-care, giving more, accomplishing more, and enjoying more. “If you want to maximize both your short-term joy and your long-term sense of having a meaningful life, you want to make sure to move your life in a direction where you have a nice balance of all four categories,” she says.

The key, Dr. Strahilvitz says, is to be clear about your objectives. “For all of the above categories, make sure to translate your goals into concrete, measurable objectives, so you know when you have hit them and when you have not. Make sure your objectives are realistic.”

So how do we do that? Strahilivitz offers these practical suggestions for turning resolutions into measurable achievement.

Start by writing down your resolution. Dr. Gail Matthews, at the Dominican University in California, found that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. The simple act of writing down what you’d like to achieve pushes you to think strategically, ask yourself questions, and to come up with a plan to make it happen.

Be specific. Vague resolutions like “I’d like to lose weight,” or I’d like to get out of debt are weak, and likely to fail – quickly. By being specific – “I’d like to lose 50 lbs. this year,” or “I’m going to pay off my VISA bill by June,” are more likely to succeed. Why? Because you’ve clearly defined your objective and can easily discern when you’re getting off-track.

Be accountable. It’s easy to blow off your goals and give up if you’re the only one in on the plan. Get an accountability partner and check in with them regularly. Accountability is highly motivational.

Link your goals to positive motivation and happiness. Strahilivitz suggests writing down three reasons you want to achieve your goal, identify the positive emotions that will follow, and share it with someone you trust.

Likewise, she suggests identifying three negatives that will result if you fail to follow through, both tangibly and emotionally. “I’ll still be in debt, struggling financially, and won’t be able to travel as I’d like. This will leave me frustrated, discouraged, and embarrassed.

Reward yourself along the way. Don’t wait until the goal is met to celebrate – celebrate milestones along the way. Go get a massage when you’ve lost those first ten pounds, splurge on a fancy coffee when you’ve made that first big dent in your debt, or simply take an afternoon to yourself.

Conversely, Strahilavitz suggests adding a little pain to failure. Personally, she committed to working out six days a week, and if she failed, she had to donate $100 to a charity whose values are contrary to her own. It’s been highly effective in keeping her motivated, and so far, she’s avoided donating.

Finally, if you falter, get back up and try again. Success is less about getting it right the first time and more about a series of do-overs. Never let a setback define or derail you.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.