As the new year approaches, many will resolve to improve in one way or another. Some might aim to lose 20 pounds. Others will try to eliminate their debt. Still others will set relationship goals, or professional goals, or any manner of other aims to achieve with the blank slate of a new year.
Statistically, New Year’s resolutions don’t have the greatest track record. According to the market research company Statistic Brain Research Institute, the success rate among Americans surveyed in 2015 was 8 percent.
What if the whole family made a resolution for the new year together, however?
With built-in accountability like that, your odds would be sure to improve. What’s more, the act of defining a goal, taking action toward it, maintaining consistency, and hopefully achieving what you set out to do is an extremely valuable lesson to teach your children. Even if you do not manage to achieve it, there are lessons to be found in failure as well.
If you’re ready to resolve together in the coming year, here are six steps to take as a family:
Decide on a Specific Goal
Gather round and let the ideas fly! Discuss with your family what you’d all like the new year to bring. Narrow down your goals until you can all agree on one to reach together.
In order to set up a successful path to your goal, you need to be specific. It would not be enough for your family to say you wish to be healthier this year. Instead, set specific goals. For example, perhaps the whole family will drink a certain amount of water each day; or get a specific amount of physical activity each week; or reduce (to a defined extent) or eliminate specific ingredients like sugar; or reach a certain healthy body mass index.
The key is to be as detailed as possible in defining what your family would like to achieve.
Once you have a goal, ask yourselves what success will look like. Write down (or perhaps draw a picture) of how your family will look and feel upon completing your goal. What will you do as a result? How will you celebrate? What will this success mean to your family?
Again, details are helpful here, as your success will become more and more real to you and feel ever more possible as you focus on your vision of success.
Measure Your Progress
Once you have a specific goal, you’ll want to track and measure your progress toward accomplishing it.
Whether you use a chart or a checklist, include the entire family in the process of incrementally marking your progress.
For example, if your goal was to be physically active at least three times per week, set up a system in which each family member can record their physical activity on a shared calendar or worksheet. Cheer each other on as you go! When someone falls off the wagon, pull them back on.
Make It Realistic
Ensure your success by checking the achievability of your resolution. Challenging yourselves is great. Setting your family up for certain failure is not so great.
If your goal feels way too lofty and you have a hard time believing you’ll even come close to your vision of success, back it down a little. What can you achieve this year, realistically?
Set a Deadline
Deadlines are key to goal setting. When will you achieve your specified goal? Perhaps the end of the year works for you. Perhaps you can achieve your aim by the summer. When you set your deadline, make it firm. Get everyone to buy in. The incremental steps you take will be heavily influenced by the deadline you set.
Choose a Reward
To add to the fun, decide on a reward for accomplishing your goal that your family will enjoy together. Whether it’s something simple, like going out to a nice restaurant, or celebrating in a bigger way, dangle that carrot of a prize for extra motivation in the new year.
Rather than go it alone this year, make your New Year’s resolution a family affair!
Happy New Year!