Start small and go from there – diving straight into an extreme diet or intense exercise regime is more likely to demotivate you in the long term. Change one behaviour at a time, and don’t get overwhelmed by trying to change your entire life in one go. At the start of the new year, make a plan of action and outline each of the small steps you need to take to achieve your goals to help you stay on track.
Don’t set sweeping goals such as ‘get healthy’ or ‘make more money’. Decide on an end point that you want to achieve, such as how much cash you’ll try to save each month, or how many minutes you’ll exercise each day. A tangible goal, such as signing up to a 5km run, or setting a savings target, is something that you can aim for and (hopefully) achieve.
Get some support
It’s true what they say about strength in numbers – accepting some help along the way is more likely to strengthen your resolve. Whether it’s a partner, a friend or a family member with a similar goal, or simply someone who offers some support and encouragement, it’s much easier to keep track of your progress if you have someone to share it with. You can also call in the professionals – a personal trainer or financial advisor will help you set and achieve targets that are realistic and within your reach.
Don’t beat yourself up if you stray off course – encountering a setback is one of the main reasons people give up on their resolutions. Don’t look at a relapse as a failure; just view it as another step along the way to your goal.
Write it down
Keep a record of what you want to achieve – sometimes, writing down a goal and sticking it in a place where it will be seen regularly (on a wall, fridge or mirror, for example) can help people work at achieving their resolution. If it helps, keep a diary along the way, too.
Resolutions for all the family
Time Out speaks to Therese Sequeira, parent educator at KidsFirst medical centre, to find out how to set resolutions for the entire family
How do I help a child make their own resolutions?
Setting a new year’s resolution is simply about setting goals for the year ahead. Sit down with your child and talk about the things they do well and are proud of. Continue the discussion so that the child is thinking about things they want to be able to do in the coming year. This could include specific things (for example, riding a bike without training wheels, dressing/feeding myself independently, reading more books, doing my homework by myself) or be more general (being kind to siblings, helping out around the house, working harder at school, eating healthy food or managing time better, for instance). Parents need to be careful not to tell children what their resolutions should be and let the children decide their resolutions for themselves.
What about sticking to them?
• Families might decide to keep each other motivated by chatting about how each person is going with their resolutions once a month.
• Sometimes it can be beneficial to break down a big goal into smaller steps and perhaps map this out over a period of time. Children might feel more motivated to continue working on their resolution when they can ‘tick off’ a few of the steps that will help them get there.
• Praise your children when you see them working at their resolution! Let them feel successful, so give them positive feedback.
• Be careful not to ‘supervise’ or ‘nag’ your child as they work at achieving their resolution – it’s their goal and they will achieve it in their own time.
Any suggestions for alternative resolutions?
As a family, you might like to choose a value that you will all work on for the year – for example, tolerance, patience, kindness and so on. Parents can lead this through their own example setting. Children might like to choose a resolution in which they are helping others. Raising funds for a charity, for instance, or giving unwanted toys to children who may appreciate them, helping out new kids who join their class during the school year, even cooking a family meal once a week.
Should families work on resolutions as a group rather than as individuals?
It may be useful to sit down as a family and plan your resolutions together so that other family members can support one another in their efforts.
What new year’s resolutions should parents set for themselves?
Some appropriate parenting resolutions might include:
• To be as patient with their kids as possible.
• To be available to their children rather than constantly making them wait.
• To be interested in their children’s lives/activities/school/friends and so on.
• To have more fun as a family than last year.
• To make and take the time to talk to their kids.
• To get together at least once a week as a whole family.
• To stick to the discipline plan they’ve all agreed.
• To let kids be more independent… so parents need to let them do more for themselves.
• To spend more time being active as a family.