2019 is on the cusp of wrapping up, and if you are anything like me, you are already looking ahead to the new year. It’s not just a new year though, is it? We are collectively staring down the barrel of a whole new decade!
So, let’s start this decade out right – but not with those pesky resolutions we all always make – let’s do it in a way that will actually work.
When it comes to making resolutions, and parenting, well, let’s be honest, they just don’t work. Resolutions, after all, are just a fancy way of saying I’m setting new goals because it’s a new year, and no matter how well-meaning you are, it’s unlikely that they are going to stick.
Resolutions are something that you pull out of a hat, with no real plan for how to pull it off. Like “I’m going to lose weight.” or “I’m going to spend more quality time with my kids” or “I’m going to volunteer more.” They are vague statements with no foundation to keep you on track.
Intentions + habits + goals, though, work entirely differently.
Let me explain. An intention works as a north star or an internal compass that helps guide you through the year.
When you set an intention, you decide your why. You build a foundation for your goals that makes you so much more likely to succeed. Without the intention, your goal is just another “resolution” and something that might not be achieved. Research actually shows that when our goals are attached to our “bigger why” (intention) we are much more likely to follow through on goals.
It’s the intention that adds meaning to the goal you set that keeps you doing it.
This still is not an easy task but reminds me of a book I read, Atomic Habits, by James Clear. In it, he talks about how forming habits, intentionally, can take us much farther than random goals that we might set.
He says this, “An atomic habit is a little habit that is part of a larger system. Just as atoms are the building blocks of molecules, atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results.” He suggests that this is not based on setting goals but based on your systems and how we develop habits with good systems in place.
Here’s a concrete example:
If your goal is to not check email when you get home from work, you might slip and do it anyway. But if your parenting intention is to be connected and experience more joy with your kids, then you can tie that goal of not checking email to having a larger purpose of connection. Add in a few mini habits and systems and you are on your way.
Can you see how right he is? If you can change one small habit at a time, using daily systems, with a solid intention behind it, you would be unstoppable!
With my bigger parenting goal of a strong connection with my teenage boys, I am going to focus on these smaller habits and systems, with intention, to meet this larger goal:
1. Journaling. This is a habit that has helped me in the past, especially when it comes to focusing on my intentions. Even if I don’t write every day, I am going to do it at least three time a week because the times I do journal, it really helps me reflect on how I’m feeling and it provides accountability.
2. Word (s) of the Year. For the past few years, we have come up with a word of the year at my company that relates to our mission. We discuss the word and how it relates to the work we are doing at every meeting. I love this habit and plan to do this for my personal life for 2020. My words are JOY and EASE and I plan to journal about how I’m focusing on the meaning of these words on a regular basis.
3. Vision board. I made a vision board a few years ago and still have it up on my dresser in my bedroom It’s time for a new one that incorporates my words of the year and other images that will remind me of my intentions.
4. Make it Visual. If a vision board is not your thing, just write your intention on a piece of paper and post it somewhere where you can see it on a regular basis, maybe the refrigerator or on the dashboard of your car or computer screen. Or, even better yet, use the form at the bottom of this post and get our FREE downloadable calendar. It will give you a place to focus your attention and it’s got some really great quotes on it for each month to set the tone.
Another really great way to actually achieve your goals is accountability. When you have a group of like-minded people, and an experienced leader helping you maintain your intentions and your goals, you are basically guaranteed to succeed.
2020 is bringing loads of new and exciting things for me. One of those is a course designed to help you be more intentional as a parent and learn our tools and techniques for creating a safe, emotionally stable space for your kids.