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New Year's Resolutions: A Chance to Teach Your Family About the Power of Setting Goals

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One of the best parts of celebrating a new year is the catharsis that comes with being able to start anew; reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year to come. The nature of the human spirit compels us to look forward, and we are empowered to take charge and create change to better our lives through New Year's resolutions. In my home, we call them goals. The power of setting goals is an extremely valuable life skill to teach your children and the New Year is the perfect time to start the conversation. It's a great opportunity for us to discuss what the future holds with our families and how we can plan for positive growth and change, together.

Here are a few tips on how to get the conversation started:

1. Explain what goal setting is and how powerful it can be
Take time to sit down and discuss the heart of the matter -- what exactly is goal setting? Resolutions or goals are statements of intention with a firm purpose. Most goals should be realistic, attainable and measurable. For example, my son wants to play for the San Diego Chargers. He's 7 years old and that's an ambitious dream. I helped my son define and work through goals that will move him closer, like learning how to throw a perfect spiral and run faster. Creating a goal is the destination we route on a map before moving forward. We may stray from the path and make alterations on the way, but we always aim to persevere and ultimately reach the destination. It is important to be ambitious enough to leave our comfort zone, yet realistic enough to not be self-defeating.

2. Brainstorm ideas for resolutions & establish accountability by writing them down
As adults, we search for goals that will make us happier and better people. Eating healthier, disconnecting from technology and volunteering are a few of the more popular resolutions you typically see. Kids and teens often need a bit of help and guidance. Outside of the typical resolutions of choice -- keeping a clean room, getting good grades, etc. -- another great way to keep your kids engaged is to actively involve them in the conversation. Ask them what they love to do. Where do they feel the happiest and most inspired? Use that as a starting point to help guide your brainstorming in the right direction. It's amazing to see the dedication and commitment that result when you fuse passion and goal setting. Lastly, it's important that we communicate the importance of accountability to ensure kids and teens understand the necessity of follow through in achieving their goals. It is essential to write our resolutions down. Keep a family notebook or individual notebook that you can refer back to.

3. Set a timeline
Once you've chosen the right resolutions for you and your kids, set times throughout the year to check in with each other and discuss progress. When those dates roll around, talk about what is working and what's not. Celebrate small victories along the way and make adjustments where necessary. At the end of the year, it will be much more exciting to look back at everyone's accomplishments instead of wishing you stuck to it.

4. Lead by example
It's tempting to sit back and tell our kids what to do as parents. When it comes to resolutions, approach them as a team effort -- and you're the captain. Stick to your goals and encourage them to do the same. Encouraging your family to adopt a team mentality to reach each individual's goals is a great way to nurture familial unity while keeping everyone accountable. Set the example by following through on your commitments and they will too.

Above all else, celebrate the New Year with your family and provide a time for everyone to reflect and share what their year's triumphs and losses were, and what they're looking forward to in 2014. It's the perfect way to spark intentional conversation and foster quality time with your children.