12/28/2012 05:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Two Steps to a Fresh Start This New Year for Parents and Kids


The beginning of a brand new year can be a wonderful time of reflection -- to look back and to look forward, to let go of regrets and to be open to new opportunities. This coming year is still a blank page but whether you have a specific New Year's resolution or you are just ready for a fresh start, you need a game plan. The A-B Formula is an easy-to-follow, two-step process to help everyone in your family work towards making changes and getting a fresh start this New Year. It's simple to follow yet it's very powerful in its impact. It's also easy for everyone in the family to remember: "A" = Accept and "B"= Baby Step.

The beauty of the A-B Formula is that it's equally effective and digestible for young children, teens and adults. Each member in the family can apply it to their own personal goals and everyone can use it together to achieve a goal set for the entire family. It can be a wonderful bonding experience for the family because everyone young and old can use the same process and the same language.

The first step in the A-B Formula is "A" for Accept. True acceptance of who and where you are today is a critical step to a fresh start and having a clean slate. When you can accept where you are today, you are acknowledging your worth as the person you are right now. This will give you the strength, commitment and breathing room to make lasting changes.

Unfortunately most of us spend much more time looking at how far away we are from where we want to be, rather than appreciating where we are right now. And then there's the inner judge - the one who lives in your head and gives you a running commentary or rather a running criticism of what you are doing wrong and how much better you should be. Sound familiar? If you don't learn to tame your inner judge, it will hound you every step of the way so that even if you do reach your goal, it will tell you that it's not enough.

The best way to keep your inner judge from taking control is through self-acceptance. If you can accept who and where you are today, your inner judge will take a backseat and lose its power to hold you back from where you want to go.

There are three simple steps to follow to accept:

  1. Be aware of where you are today
  2. Be kind and patient with yourself
  3. Take responsibility instead of blaming others

The second component in the A-B Formula is "B" for Baby Step. A Baby Step can ignite the momentum for change to happen. Taking a palatable and achievable Baby Step will kick-start your confidence and give you the fuel to keep moving in a positive direction towards your goal.


The wise old adage "Don't bite off more than you can chew" has been around a long time for a reason. Yet many of us take a giant step that we can't possibly handle which can then tear down our confidence and make us afraid to try new things. Taking a Baby Step, on the other hand, allows you to gain mastery slowly which will improve your feelings of self-efficacy, the belief that you can reach your goal.

Another common approach to achieving goals is to try to get from here to there without any plan at all. If there's no clear direction or path, it's very easy to feel lost or overwhelmed and then just give up. However, taking just one Baby Step will help you or your child feel confident, responsible and capable of making change.

To take a Baby Step, it's important to remember:

  1. Make it a step you can handle today
  2. Take a step in the direction you want to go

While looking for a fresh start this New Year, remind yourself to Accept and Baby Step. Over and over again, Accept and Baby Step, Accept and Baby Step. In martial arts, I learned the Japanese term kaizen, which means "consistent and never ending self-improvement." This rings so true to me and is a great reminder for me when I think I need to be perfect at everything for everyone. The pressure, stress and self-judgment that tag along with trying to be perfect can be overwhelming. On the other hand, focusing on the process rather than the goal invites kindness and patience towards ourselves. Remember, achieving goals alone will never make you happy in the long run. It's who you become along the way that will give you the deepest fulfillment.