Perhaps you have made life-changing goals for the new year: return to a pre-baby body, start a business you love, travel to a place you’ve never been or get that promotion at work. But have you ever thought of setting a New Year’s resolution for your family? If a resolution is defined as an intention to make this year better than the last through concrete actions, then this possibility is open not just for a personal change but positive transformation even for the people you love and live with.
It sounds daunting. How are we supposed to control the actions of our family, especially if they’re already adults? Look at your resolution to be less about control but about intention and action, so you can make the changes you want in your family life.
Here are six steps to setting a family intention for the new year:
1. Visualize an ideal day in your family’s life. Take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Envision an ideal day. Be clear about the details. Where are you? What are you doing as a family? When you wake up in the morning, what are you doing? What activities fill the rest of the day? What makes this day so special? How does this day make you feel? Bask in that feeling for a while.
Open your eyes. Write what you had visualized in your journal. Write about it in the present tense, as if it’s already happening. Talk about how your ideal day made you feel. You can also draw this or find photos that represent this day.
2. Summarize your year in a word. With your vision of the ideal day, think of a word that will encapsulate it. This word is your intention for the year, and it will guide the actions you want to take.
Take a look at what you had written and see if there are any words that pop. Maybe the feeling you had at the end of the visualization is your word. I invite you to dig deeper than choosing “happy,” “hard working,” “achievement,” “success,” or “wealth.”
While these are all worthy goals, what your family needs may be more immediate and specific. Here are some words to consider:
ADVENTURE: Maybe there’s a desire to travel more, to go beyond your comfort zone, to do something new. CONNECTION: This could be a need to get off your devices and social media and start talking to each other again. CALM: This could be anything from less shouting to a more peaceful, less cluttered environment. WELLNESS: Maybe it’s time to start some healthy habits -- more nutritious food, exercise, outdoor activities, increased water intake. KINDNESS: Little acts and words of kindness could be something that your family is craving for. GRATITUDE: Instead of comparing yourself to others, look at the gifts that your current life already has.
If you’re still struggling to find your word, consider the following questions:
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What are you looking forward to doing as a family this year?
What didn’t you like about your family life last year?
What are your hopes and dreams?
Are there activities that you used to do together that you miss and wish you could do again?
Where qualities do you want to nurture in your family?
At the end of 2017, how will your family have changed?
Ask your husband and children to share their own resolutions. You might find a common thread.
3. Consider how you can put this word into practice. Let’s take the sample words above. If it’s ADVENTURE you seek, plan a series of trips, visit an unexplored part of the city or try a new hobby together. If CONNECTION is your word, mobile phones, and devices will no longer be allowed at the dining table. You can also write birthday love letters to your kids and husband instead of just a generic tag on their gifts. For CALM, create an altar or read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for tips on de-cluttering. For WELLNESS, remove junk food from your grocery list or drink an extra glass of water. KINDNESS could mean a list of words that can no longer be used at home. GRATITUDE can be a simple sharing of what each member of the family is grateful for during Sunday dinner.
4. Share your word. Gather your family. Explain to them why this is important, why you chose your word, and your vision for your family in the new year. They might also have suggestions on other words that they can better connect with.
Get their buy-in.
Ask them to think creatively about how this word can be made real. Make a list of 10 ideas and implement the simplest one. Create a poster highlighting your chosen word. Post it so you can see it regularly -- on the refrigerator door, on everyone’s mobile phone lock screen, above the TV. Make it fun.
5. Be the change. Be the word. It’s difficult to change others. As Gandhi so wisely pointed out, “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” If you want your family to adapt your word-resolution, be the first to put it in practice. Model the behavior you want. Remind your family gently that you have made a commitment towards this intention.
6. Do monthly check-ins. Ask yourself: How did we put ADVENTURE into action this month? How did we improve our CONNECTION? How did I infuse CALM into my family life? How did we make WELLNESS a priority? What KINDNESS activities did we do together? How did GRATITUDE show up?
If you were unable to make your word a priority, be gentle with yourself and your family and remind yourself that you can start again. You can also evaluate if the word resolution still works. You can change it mid-year if it doesn’t resonate anymore. A year is a long time, and we can renew our commitments to positive change over and over during its course.
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Aurora M. Suarez is a certified Courageous Living life coach, a holistic US-based 10-month life coaching program. She helps women move beyond their limitations, fear, and doubt into a place of joy, possibility, and delight. Find out more about her and how she can help you at auroramsuarez.com. You can also find her in Facebook.