I don’t call our tradition ‘resolutions’, because to me, resolutions imply habits we’re trying to break instead of brand new things we’re trying to reach for to achieve. This may not be accurate, but it’s how we look at it. Here’s what we do, if you’re interested: for the past several New Year’s Eves (or day, if it works out better that way), we each come to the dining room table with a piece of paper and pencil. We each write down three measurable goals: one for the year, one for the next five years, and one for the next 10 years. No goal is off-limits, but it must be measurable. For example, ‘I will do more push-ups,’ is not measurable, whereas, ‘I will do 20 push-ups a day’ is. We let the kids dictate the nature of their goals (sports-related, school-related, etc).
Then we type up each person’s goals, and give it to them to put on their bulletin board or folded in the pages of their favorite book or journal. Before writing each year’s goals, we look at last year’s, and see where we stand. This part can be intimidating, elating, or just plain depressing, but it’s important, because as I’ve talked about before, we want our kids to know it’s ok to fail. I certainly do; this year, I showed the boys my 2013 goal of publishing my book, and let them see that, once again, it would be written down as a 2014 goal. Perseverance, and all that.
Why do we do this? I want my kids to know there are no limits, but that also, achievements don’t just ‘happen’ to people. After reading this New York Times piece on a homeless child, one aspect that struck me was the fact that young Dasani could not identify what she wanted to be when she grew up. She’d never brainstormed (or been told) her options. A question as simple as this eluded her completely. To a lesser degree, all our kids are in danger of not knowing what they want, what their vast choices are, and how to get there. Our goal-setting helps our kids know:
1. What they want out of life.
2. What they’re capable of.
3. How to get there.
And I don’t thing it’s ever too early to start.