Set Small Achievable Goals Rather Than Big Resolutions

I like to think of the start of a new year as a fresh slate and a great opportunity to reflect on what is most important to me. I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. I used to look to them as a chance to improve myself, but found my inevitable big resolutions to do easier said than done stuff. Overwhelming, lofty goals like, lose weight! Get in super, muscular shape! Make our home the go to place for play dates! Throw fabulous family parties!

A year is an artificial, self set time parameter. And the bigger the goal, the harder it can be to achieve. I think it’s true what experts say that setting small achievable goals are much more likely to succeed and feel more satisfying.

Young Messy BoyNow I like taking this opportunity to reflect on my family life and each of my children’s needs for small concrete steps I can take in the next year to help them. What are their biggest strengths and challenges?  How can I help foster their strengths and interests? Not by obsessing or over-scheduling, but seeking fun, enriching ways for them to explore their passions.

How can I help support their growth and how they handle their challenges? I can’t “fix” things or do it for them. They won’t learn that way and I feel strongly that each child’s unique personality is wonderful just how it is.

I prefer to build on strengths than focus on challenges, but  I look at aspects of their challenges that could make life harder for them. For example, if their table manners are so scary that I fear the sweetest Mom in the neighborhood might not have them back if they see their eating frenzy in action. Or social skills that make it hard for them to make friends or get along with their peers at preschool or school.


Setting small goals helps us feel accomplished without going crazy, for example:

  • Use family dinners to focus on a special aspect of troublesome table manners, like keeping food eating over the plate and not all over the place (including the floor)

  • If making friends is a challenge, to help build social skills, plan for play dates by practicing things to say and what they want to play with (Here are more tips for Helping Your Child Make Friends).

  • Invite a different family over for brunch once every month or two to increase friendships, ideally who have kids of a similar age.  (We like brunch because it’s the easiest, quickest meal to host.)

  • Reduce arguments with kids about everyday tasks from getting ready to school to brushing teeth to going to sleep with a reward chart like this sample one.

  • Plan spending alone time with each child even if it’s just half an hour, once every week, or whatever frequency works for you to help reduce sibling rivalry. For example, Vicky shares her strategy of leveraging different bed times to share a special story time with each child in her article about Nurturing the Sibling Relationship.

  • Build in a fitness activity each week with the kids such as taking them for a walk or chasing them around the playground. See more ideas in Ten Ways to Get Exercise without Going to a Gym.

  • An easy career goal could be to once a week send an email to someone in your network to catch up or share an interesting article. See more ideas in 10 Things to Do For Your Career in 2014 by Career Coach Elana Konstant, which are still great ones for 2015.




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