Sure, we’ve all made New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps some of us have even kept them (though statistics show not many). Still, there is something beneficial about ending the year in a state of reflection and stepping back in appreciation of where you’ve been and where you’re headed.
If you ask me, this back-to-school season presents the same opportunity. Perhaps it’s the fresh backpacks and new shoes, or all of those newly sharpened pencils and clean sheets of paper—but there’s a blank-slate quality to this time of year, too, ready for new inspiration and a fresh start.
So, as your little ones head out the door or your homeschool ramps up, let the magic of fresh school supplies, a new season, and indeed, a new year inspire you to reflect and set goals for the season and the year ahead.
Pause and Reflect
As the weather begins to change and the pumpkin spice infiltrates all of your favorite beverages, carve out some time to yourself to sip, reflect, dream and, ideally, write down what’s on your mind.
Ask yourself questions about the last school year—the good and the bad—and what you can do to make this new school year amazing.
“As the beginning of school approaches, I always find myself reflecting on the previous school year and what my family and I can do to improve in the coming year,” said Shira Ackerman, an educational adviser at GoNoodle. “I think about the previous year—what worked, what didn’t, and what I would like to change. And I think about the big and small—everything from homework time and communicating with my kids’ teachers, to carpool logistics and lunch boxes.
“At the same time, every school year brings new changes and challenges, so I go into the year with an open mind and sense of flexibility, knowing that my goals may need to change as the year progresses.”
As you reflect, ask yourself: Are you spiritually fulfilled? Are you the person you want to be? Are you the parent or spouse you want to be? Are you fostering those talents and interests you hold dear, or are there some that could stand to be dusted off and encouraged a bit?
Think of your responsibilities in the world. Are you fulfilling them? Are there things you know you should be doing that you’re not? Are there things you know you should not be doing that you are? How can you improve?
What are you grateful for in your life? What can you do to find more meaning and contentedness?
Envision a Beautiful Year
Imagine that the year ahead is the best one you could possibly imagine for you and your family. What would it look like? What would an ideal day look like? Be specific.
Consider the different aspects of your family’s life: your home, recreation, work, school, extended family and friends, travel, interests, spiritual practice, service to others, health, and finances. What are your top priorities? What would they look like ideally?
Choose a few priorities for you to work on this year to get closer to that ideal vision.
Ackerman says she makes sure her goals are “specific and explicit, realistic for me and my family, prioritized, so I choose only a few (three to five), flexible ones. As the year progresses, I may need to revise, drop, or add goals.”
What would you and your family need to do to get from where you currently are to where your ideal vision is? Are there simple changes you could make that would get you just a little bit closer this year?
Decide on your top priority and aim to establish one new habit to start to make this year just a little bit better in some regard. Habits are the key to consistently working toward a new goal.
Make It a Family Affair
“In addition to reflecting and setting goals independently, invite your family to participate in the process,” said Ackerman. “Hold a family meeting to brainstorm and select three to five family-wide goals, and ask each family member to set and share one specific goal for him or herself for the year. Short-term concrete goals and incentives work best for younger children, so consider making a chart with text and pictures with your children to help set and keep track of daily and weekly goals.”