As 2014 draws to a close, people often reflect on the year that has been, and set goals for the next year in the form of New Year Resolutions – things like giving up smoking, playing more golf, losing weight etc. There’s two flaws with this…
Firstly most of these vague goals are wishes, not actionable intentions, so that within a few days or weeks that resolution has been broken.
Secondly, they often seem to be stated in terms of what you don’t want, rather than what you do want.
In my role as a Life Coach (my other hat!), I find that when people ar unhappy or disenchanted with a part of their life, they are often very clear about what they don’t want ie the problem which they want to eliminate. But, when asked: ‘So what do you want?’, they are vague and unclear, often stating: ‘I don’t know, I just want the other to stop.’
It is no wonder that we fail to reach a goal, when we don’t even know what it is specifically that we do want! It’s a bit like knowing you want to go on a bus trip, and hopping on the first bus which comes along, even though there’s no destination sign on it to say where that bus is going – who knows where you’ll end up!
I love this quote from Jim Rohn:
“I find it fascinating that most people plan their holidays with better care, than they plan their lives.”
So, how does all this relate to parenting…….
In my parenting work, I also hear things like:
- I want to stop yelling at my kids.
- I want her to stop throwing her toys.
- I don’t like that we hardly ever have family time.
– again all expresssed as ‘what we don’t like or want!
The key to any goal setting is to be clear on what you do want! In the above examples, a re-frame could be:
- I want to speak nicely to my children.
- I can her to care for her toys.
- I want to have regular family time.
– be clear about what you do want!
With this in mind, think about what you do want in terms of:
Your expressions of love
How you play
How you connect
How you spend your time
How you use your words
How you give attention
This is both in what you give others (your children, your partner, your step-children, your sister, your friends etc) and importantly, how you give to yourself.
Now, grab a piece of paper and a pen, and jot down those headings (and any others which you like), and then make columns titled ‘Me’, ‘the Kids’, ‘my partner’ etc, and write down what you do want there.
If you find yourself stuck on knowing what you don’t want, then ask yourself: “And if I weren’t doing this (yelling/ no time/ being too busy etc) what would I be doing instead?”
Once you have a clear picture, then this becomes your goal – ie that bus now has a sign on it, saying where it is going, and you are in the drivers seat!
Once you have your specific goal, the next part is to take steps towards achieving that goal eg If your goal is to play more, then how will you do that? Will you set aside a specific time each day, or per week to play? What will you play – with your 2 year old, your 5 year old? How will your own personal play time look like? – a bushwalk, a swim, coffee with friends. Now look at who is involved, and where you will play. The more specific you are the more likely you are to succeed. It’s like the bus sign which states it is going from Hobart to Launceston, via Campbelltown – it’s very specific! The more clarity you have, the more likely you are to get there!
Enjoy this process of identifying your parenting goals (and yes, some days are just about ‘survving the day!’) – make your life how you want it to be!