Welcome 2012! January of a new year offers all of us a clean slate. Many blogs have been rife with suggestions for how to start the New Year on the right foot and make changes for the better with finances and diet, among other things. It is important to set new goals for yourself in the New Year. What is often overlooked in goal setting is looking at the entire family, if you are married with children.
This year, my husband and I have decided to not only set goals for ourselves personally and for our finances as a couple, but for our whole family. Our children are only 7, 3 and 1, but we took the time to have a family meeting right after the new year.
We asked our 7 year old to look back on 2011 and write down some things that changed in his life and then to write down what he would like to accomplish in 2012. My husband and I each did the same thing. Our 3 year old participated in a limited way, and our one year old just observed. We kept our lists, and at the end of 2012 we will look over them again.
Is it over the top to ask a 7 year old to reflect on his year and state goals for the new year? We don’t think so. This is actually a tradition my husband and his family participated in every New Year since he was young, and he enjoyed it. Here are some of the benefits you may notice if you choose to do the same thing:
It Fosters A Sense Of Accomplishment
When you are young (and sometimes even when you are not), it can be frustrating to look at all of the things you cannot do yet. One of my son’s frustrations is that he has not yet mastered riding his bike without training wheels, though he is trying. However, with this activity, he looks back on all the things he has accomplished, such as learning to write kanji (a more difficult part of Japanese writing) and having a larger role in his class play. He sees that even though he is frustrated that he can’t do some of the things he would like to do, he is still learning and growing.
It Fosters A Sense Of Gratitude
Kids can become wrapped up in themselves and their wants and desires. My son devours chapter books now, and he wants everything the characters in the books have such as a dog and his own room. Those things are not possible right now, but at the family meeting, he noticed other things that changed such as our recent move to a much larger apartment that offers him more private space and his little sisters more room to play so they aren’t bothering him all the time.
It Shows How Quickly Time Passes
The old saying is that the days are long but the years are short. This is so true, especially once you have children. It seems that my son was just a baby, and now he is so tall he comes up to my shoulder. When parents are mired in the day to day tasks of raising children, they may not notice how rapidly their children are changing and growing. By taking time in January to write down where we have been in the past year and what we would like to accomplish in the next year, we essentially take a written snapshot of our lives to look back on next January 1st.
The New Year offers all of us a fresh start. In addition to setting your own personal goals, consider taking the time to have a family discussion about what each of you would like to accomplish in the upcoming year and what you already accomplished in the prior year.