It’s almost that time of the year again… you know, the time to make New Year’s resolutions.
How often do you keep your resolutions though?
Do you make goals like: be a more positive parent, lose 75 lbs., run 2 miles a day, do more things as a family? Those are noble goals, but they are quite lofty and each one realistically requires many small baby steps to even be able to begin to achieve them.
I confess; I’ve made the resolution “be a more positive mom”! I tried to say encouraging things to my kids in the morning while getting ready for school. I attempted to organize my life more efficiently so I would be less stressed and have more energy.
But despite all my great efforts, by Ground Hog Day, I had given up and had literally forgotten about the “positive” list tucked away in a basket in my night stand.
Things changed 8 years back when I decided to stop making New Year’s resolutions.
Instead, I started focusing on tiny habits. Tiny habits are essentially small pieces of a big goal that are easier to stick with and get done, and hence have a better chance of success. Make enough of them, and before you know it, you’re actually achieving your big, lofty goals.
If I were to make a resolution this year it would say something along the lines of “instill strong character values in kids”. Or something equally lofty. And vague. My kids are in middle school and character building is strongly on my mind.
Instead though, I decided to use the tiny habits concept, and made a plan of how to go about it. Essentially, the goal is broken down into simple, monthly activities that will get everyone in the family involved – body, mind, soul, and spirit!
If raising kids with a strong character is something you’d like to focus on this year, try this with us. You can simply use our 12 Month Plan below and follow it to a T, or use it as a guideline and customize it to your own family’s needs.
We will focus on one basic character trait each month. Then for each character trait, we follow these five easy steps:
- Do an individual reflection.
- Participate in a family growth activity.
- Do a daily good deed.
- Focus on a specific attitude/behavior attribute.
- Travel outside the “comfort zone” box and find an activity that pushes normal tendencies for you and your family to the limit to achieve blissful success!
Simple. Straight forward. Achievable.
Here’s our plan –
1. Write down lies that you have told (this can be done discreetly).
2. Have a family-friendly Truth or Dare game night.
3. Give someone an HONEST compliment daily.
4. Listen to your tongue. Do you have a problem telling big lies, white lies, any lies? Break the habit, if you do!
5. Pick at least one of the lies from the list made in #1 and right the wrong! Be brave!
1. Ask for help doing something that you usually prefer to do by yourself.
- Stacking the dishes in the dishwasher
- Playing your favorite video game
2. Team building activity! Family members stand in circle facing inwards with hands behind backs trying to keep one balloon in the air. Keep adding balloons; see how many good TEAMWORK can keep going!
3. Help someone at least once a day.
- As simple as holding open the door for someone
- Helping with homework
- Helping prepare or clean up a meal
4. Teamwork can be tricky sometimes. Determine what strengths you bring individually to your family team. Build and focus on using your strengths (eg. creativity, leadership, organization, peacemaker etc.) when faced with teamwork activities this month.
5. Let your family together take over a task – (eg. vacation planning, putting together the monthly budget, making a meal plan etc.)
MARCH: Communication Skills
1. Prepare and give a “speech” to your family, friends, or co-workers, about a topic that you are passionate about, or an idea that you want changed, or just a brand new idea to be introduced.
2. Go to a park and take turns blindfolding family members. Place an object somewhere in the park and have family members give specific, detailed, and clear instructions to the blindfolded person on how to get to the object without falling, bumping into something, etc.
3. Each day this month, make eye contact and say “Hello” “How are you” “I like your hat” etc. to a stranger or someone that you don’t know very well (someone different every day, and yes, this may require you to look up from your phone, tablet, etc.).
4. Take time to set up meetings with friends that you haven’t spoken to in depth for a while or make some phone calls to distant friends that you’ve just been connecting with by Facebook, Instagram, texting, etc. Talk substance with them, not just about the weather!
5. Strike up a conversation (not just a one-liner) with strangers, people you hardly know – in the grocery line, school lunch line or while waiting for your coffee.
1. Make a list of areas of your life in which you are very confident and areas in which you lack confidence the most… similar to a pro/con list.
2. Play as a family “What Would a Stranger Say about You Game?” Take turns telling each other how you think a stranger would describe you. Examine what comes out as strengths and weaknesses about you.
3. This daily good deed is about you! Each morning this month, when you first wake up and are getting ready, look at yourself in the mirror and out loud give yourself a compliment. It could be something as simple as: “You are a very clean person and your house is always company ready!”
4. Organization can have an immense impact on your confidence level. It’s easier to be confident in an area of your life when it is organized and simplified! So this month, organize your “to do” items in your life. Simplify and remove unnecessary things that clog up your daily life. Break it down into daily tasks, weekly tasks, and monthly tasks. Print it up, color it, make it your own design and post it where you can refer to it and perhaps even make check boxes to check off to see your progress as you get things done!
5. Go back up to the list you made in #1. Pick just one of the items listed on the “CON” side to work on this month. For example, Shyness speaking=join a small church, school, work committee that will require for you to speak and mingle with peers or co-workers.
1. Everyone needs a little passion in their lives! What’s yours? Are you actively seeking and pursuing it? Start by discovering/acknowledging what you are passionate about.
2. Make a Passion Poster. Work together as a family but each member creates their own creativity board. Use large poster boards, cut and paste magazine pictures, draw pictures, write down words to describe things you love doing.
3. Look at your family’s Passion Posters. Each day encourage at least one of your family members to follow a certain passion or give them a compliment relating to a passion they have listed, drawn, or pictured on their poster.
4. We all had more passion when we were children with those wonderful carefree lives. Do more carefree things this month… let the stress go!
- Roll down a hill
- Skip instead of walking
- Start dancing when your favorite song comes on
5. Take real steps to achieving that passion or dream. For instance, if writing a book is your dream, start on the first chapter.
1. Download “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” song by Aretha Franklin on your device as a way to remember this month’s goal!
2. Go to worksheetplace.com and print out Respect Worksheet to work through together as a family discussing the topics and responses as a group.
3. Respect someone older than you by helping them with an easy task or do something just to be friendly.
- Rake elderly neighbor’s yard
- Make Grandma her favorite cookies
4. Respect is a two-way street. The best way to receive respect from others is to hand it out to others yourself. Be sure you are behaving in a respectful manner not only to those people in your life that are older than you but also showing respect towards little ones too. Lead and teach by example.
5. Decide as a family a person, group, or organization to show respect to.
- Make a craft for elderly people at a retirement home
- Take a pie to a local Fire Station
- Make a special gift for that inspiring teacher or friend.
You can find more Respect activities here.
1. Write down 30 simple encouraging statements on separate slips of paper. Fold them up and put them in a special container. Pick one to read to yourself for encouragement from within.
2. Play a basketball game of “Horse”. No put downs, just good, healthy encouraging words said to each other as one succeeds or fails.
3. Say one, genuine encouraging statement to someone each day.
4. Make an Encouraging Words Chart with some of these affirmations to post in your house for a constant reminder to have an encouraging attitude all month long.
5. We all have those “not so easy to love” people in our life. Take time to encourage these people with kind words, email, gift, etc.
1. Integrity is the very core of our character. What does your inner core say about you? What are your strong beliefs you try to live your life by?
2. Even if no one sees it, it still matters. Discuss times in which your integrity was challenged. Did you do the right thing or the wrong thing? Then discuss role models. Each person picks a role model who is a good example of integrity to look up to and model your integrity values after. Refer to the integrity section of the website championsofcharacter.org for great discussion ideas and definitions of what integrity means.
3. Integrity is doing the right thing even when it’s not the popular thing. Each day make decisions and rely on your integrity compass to guide you to do what you know is right in your heart.
4. Integrity is being truthful and genuine. Be caring in what you do and say, but also make sure what is coming out of your mouth and what your actions are saying are based on truth and a truly genuine in spirit.
5. Do what’s right! Let your inner integrity shine bright!
- Invite the kid who sits by themselves at lunch to sit with you and your friends.
- Give a ride to the co-worker no one really likes and get to know that person on a more personal level.
- Smile and give a compliment to someone who is always unpleasant.
1. “Winners never quit, quitters never win.” Kind of a cliché quote, but it does have a deeper meaning when dissected. Commitment today is a lost art. Friendships are easily tossed aside, sports or clubs are stopped at the first sign of struggle, and marriages are given up on instead of being fought for. Do you have the grit to make a commitment and see it through to the end? What situations are you struggling with right now in which you are considering quitting or are just not giving 100% effort because you are not receiving that amount from it?
2. Take your last name (or if you have multiple last names in your family, pick a word that you all can agree on to use in this exercise-maybe use everyone’s first name) and as a family decide on a word(s) that describes the commitment that your family will strive for.
- E = Endurance
- D = Dedication
- W = Work together
- A = Allegiance
- D = Dependable
- R = Reliable
- S = Support
3. Make a personal commitment goal for the month. Carry it out each and every day. Don’t give up! For example: “make a healthy meal for your family every night”.
4. Commitment reveals a considerable amount about our character. This month, keep the commitments you have. Work hard and give 100% no matter what you get in return in the commitments you’ve made. And yes, this does include your commitment to your marriage, your dedication to raise your children, your duty towards your parents, and requirements and expectations of you at work, school, sports team, club membership, etc.
5. Pick your most challenging, perhaps your most failing, commitment that you face presently. Write a Commitment Game Plan. Write down the challenges you face to keep going. Write down strategies and ideas that will help you achieve a successful result. Break it down step by step to simplify so you can tackle this situation and come away with a commitment victory!
For example, if your commitment challenge is to get along with a person (let’s call her Diane) on your basketball team
- Walk away when Diane starts to frustrate or irritate you
- Say at least one encouraging thing to Diane during practice (eg. “nice shot”)
- Go out of your way to ask Diane to be your partner at least once a week during an exercise activity during practice.
- Smile and be friendly during the day at school when you see Diane in the hallway, lunchroom, or classroom.
- Don’t let Diane make your love for basketball any less.
- Don’t talk about Diane with your friends behind her back.
1. Oh, what a fun month to work on creativity! This is the month with Halloween in it, so come up with a new, inventive way to show your Halloween spirit this month.
- A new way to use pumpkins for decorations
- Make an artistic spooky dessert or treat.
- Carve the meanest, baddest Jack-O-Lantern
2. Decide on a fun Halloween family plan. Work on it together and be creative. Don’t just go out and purchase items, but instead come up with ways to crafty design the plan you pick.
- Host a Halloween Party
- Dress up together as a family with a theme: Scooby Doo, Sesame Street, Peanuts Characters, etc.
- Make creative Halloween treats to hand out on Halloween night to trick-or-treaters
3. Use autumn as your inspiration and find ways to be kind or help someone each day.
- Rake leaves in a pile and have fun with those you love jumping into them
- Rake leaves for neighbors
- Make a pumpkin pie and give it to a person who is without family nearby
4. Be creative this month in what are normally the mundane routines in your day
- Wear bold colors, or an outfit that you’ve been saving for…what?!
- Pick out a new recipe and try it with your family
- Style your hair differently, or color it a new color
- Try a new food at a restaurant that you’ve always wondered about
- Go to a play or concert if you normally go to the movies
- Try walking to destinations that are nearby that you normally drive or take the bus to.
5. Make a fall decoration to give as a gift to someone. Visit that Hobby Store and be creative, let your personality shine through the project. Don’t forget to buy hot glue!
NOVEMBER- Positive Attitude
1. Being thankful even in trying times exhibits a positive attitude. However, sometimes this is much easier said than done! What helps you have a positive attitude throughout the day?
- Is it a restful night’s sleep?
- Is it healthy eating?
- Is it listening to a certain song or type of music?
Discover what inspires you to start your day out right and strive to accomplish this every day in order to reach your positive attitude goal.
2. Having a positive attitude with family members is probably one of the most challenging positive aspects we face. Those that we love most can irritate most as well! Pick a separate day this month to celebrate each member of the family (pets included!)
- Let the person pick what she or he wants to eat for a meal that day.
- Buy fun plates, cups, and napkins.
- Let the family member pick out an easy, simple activity to do that day as a family. It’s kind of like a birthday party, but it’s a party for that person “just because”! Refer to The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd. (note to self: include link while scheduling)
3. Pass it on!!! The most powerful positive attitude is the one that shines as a good example and gets passed on and shared beyond anything you may expect. Smile! Compliment! Only positive words out of your mouth! Let your positive attitude shine for all to see… and hopefully, copy!
4. Maintaining a positive attitude is no easy task. Being optimistic is this month’s goal. Find a picture of a glass brimming over with a yummy beverage and print it out and put it in your bathroom, bedroom, car, school locker, gym bag, purse, wallet, etc. Be a “glass full” kind of person!
5. It’s a Kodak moment time. Take pictures of your family and friends doing fun, positive things. Make a Positive Scrapbook filled with smiles and happiness to flip through on a rainy day when your spirit and attitude needs a boost. Your local Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby stores have everything you need at a minimal cost.
DECEMBER- Be Genuine
1. Genuine = not false or fake. Letting others see the real you instead of a fabrication of yourself that makes you feel more comfortable is very commonly done. However, being genuine and true to yourself will make you truly happy and being the “fake” you will just leave you feeling empty and hollow, and probably even a little bit shallow. Be true to yourself and be happy in who you are. Let YOU shine through and be true blue YOU!
2. The Christmas Season is upon us.
- Find a local charity to volunteer your time.
- You and your family can help serve a meal at a local shelter.
My family and I enjoy manning the Angel Tree table at our mall. We take donations and help people pick out Angels on the tree. And we always pick out a boy and a girl for our family to shop for. Giving from a genuine heart, there’s no better gift!
3. Where in your life do you see a genuine concern or need?
- Does your school or church need volunteer help?
- Is there a neighbor or elderly person in need?
Discover that genuine need and seek each day to do something to genuinely meet that need. Make sure you have genuine intentions when searching for that need or concern.
4. Being genuine is being true, truthful, honest, and totally transparent. Take the “fakeness” out of your life. Be honest with others about your struggles and desires. A friendship or relationship grows when sharing is done with no holds barred attitude. Watch your relationships flourish when you become genuinely genuine!
5. Examine your life. Do you surround yourself with material objects to cover your inadequacies or what you consider your flaws? Genuine people forge their own paths and are not afraid of failure. Be genuine in all your relationships, career, school, and in everything you see, touch, and do. Genuine happiness is surely to follow!
The 2-Minute Action Plan for Fine Parents
If you’ve read this far, obviously you are motivated to try this with your family. Spend the next 2 minutes to –
- Print out the 12 Month New Year’s Resolution Plan
- Make any tweaks to make it better fit you and your family’s needs and desires
- Pin it on the fridge where everyone can see
The Ongoing Action Plan for Fine Parents
- Talk to your family tonight about the 12 Month New Year’s Resolution Plan
- Figure out ways to get buy-in from everyone
- Roll it out!
May the year of 2016 bless both you and your family! HAPPY NEW YEAR!