I’m a starter. I love the excitement that goes along with starting new things. At the beginning of 2015, parents have an opportunity to not only set goals for themselves but to guide their kids in growth. Think of New Year’s resolutions as not simply setting and achieving (or not achieving) a goal but being intentional about personal – or family – growth. The New Year offers a perfect opportunity to build a growth mindset in our lives and our children. Keep these things in mind while setting goals.
Set an area of focus for the year and choose activities to reinforce this area of focus for children. When our daughter turned 13, we decided to put her on a five year growth plan in order to not simply survive the teenage years but intentionally build character in her life (and ours). Each year has an area of focus such as responsibility, compassion/generosity, global thinking, etc., and each focus has set activities spread throughout the year to reinforce the focus. For example, when working on responsibility she would be responsible for her own laundry, packing lunches, cleaning room (still working on that one), keeping a homework agenda, completing a Red Cross babysitting class, reading a book and memorizing a Bible verse on responsibility. We need to make some adjustments and tighten up on our system, but overall this can work with kids of any age.
Focus on progress not perfection. I am a type A, driven person, so it’s pretty much all of nothing with me. If I cave and eat a bag of chips when I get home from school because I am stressed out (totally hypothetical), my eating is shot for the rest of the day. This is why during exams I just start the day with brownies. But a growth mindset is about progress – not perfection. When I was a stay-at-home mom (the best example of an oxymoron ever), my goal every year was to read 52 books, one per week. I don’t think I ever hit that goal, but I usually got in the mid 40s. Was I a failure because I didn’t achieve my goal? Absolutely not – reading one book in a year is better than reading no books. Offer yourself and your kids forgiveness and grace when setbacks occur and keep pushing forward.
Limit the number of goals per year. Donald Miller suggests that we can only focus or work on three big things in a year. Choosing to hike the Machu Picchu (this is a goal of mine, seriously), eat less chips (again hypothetical) write a book (no desire to do this), run a marathon (hahahaha – never again), put an end to standardized testing in American education, (no comment), and take over the world may be a little too much for me to pull off in one year. Prioritize and don’t set yourself up for failure. This year I will be focusing on hiking the Machu Picchu, ending standardized testing, and beginning my world command.
As 2014 comes to an end spend some time thinking about how you want to grow this year. Have conversations with your family about growth. Cheer each other on to personal growth in the New Year. Happy New Year, and in spite of all of the interruptions and complications that life offers, may this year be a blessed year for all of you.
What goals or areas of focus are you choosing to prioritize this year?