Family New Year’s Resolutions


I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. It’s distinctly possible that I’m just letting myself off the hook with that attitude rather than admitting that I make resolutions and then fail, as something like 88% of people do. But I have found it useful in other areas of my life to set goals. As a teacher, I used to set goals with the class as a group and to ask each student to set goals for the term in different areas of the subject (I generally taught 10th grade-level English and Psychology). We – the student and I – could then use these goals as a kind of measure of where the student stood in relation to where s/he wanted to be. As a teacher I was primarily interested to see if each student was giving her best, not so much in the comparison to the others.This shifted more of the responsibility to each student.

In a family, it can work very well to set goals for the year, or maybe just the next few months, as a family. It could be an activity like going to a particular place, playing more games together, eating vegetarian once a week. Or it might be a way you want to be with each other such as showing more apprecation, shouting and arguing less often. The possibilites are truly endless, but you don’t want to set too many goals and then feel overwhelmed and defeated from the beginning.

The thing is that when you set goals as a family, it is easier to support each other in reaching for and making the goal. Naturally, since we are talking in Positive Discipline terms here, the Family Meeting is the perfect place to brainstorm, discuss and agree on these goals. You can also have the opening compliments round related to the goals. Since you have already established an attitude of loving support and mistakes as opportunities to learn, it is easy to encourage everyone to keep striving towards the goals rather than poking fun or catching someone out when she doesn’t quite stick to the goal as agreed.

Long ago I heard this quote: “If you reach for the stars, you will at least hit the ceiling.” I have looked at goals with that in mind ever since. Even if you don’t reach the ultimate goal, the act of working towards it will take you further than you had believed possible. It may seem like a stretch, but in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday, let’s reach for the stars together with our family.


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