I want to be more patient with my kids.
I need to lose weight.
I have to get more organised.
As much as this time of year is about good intentions and setting goals for the journey into the new year, it can also feel just a wee bit discouraging to focus on all of those areas where we feel that we just aren’t measuring up – especially when we had that exact same resolution last year…and the year before.
But guess what – I am not perfect. You aren’t perfect. Your partner is fabulous but still not perfect. Your children are sweet/adorable/fun/clever/fabulous but they definitely aren’t perfect. Your parents, siblings, friends, neighbours, school teachers, employers…nope, none of them are either.
We are all imperfectly human. We all have strengths… and weaknesses. We all have times when we fail to meet our own expectations – well at least, the majority of us do.
So this year I am giving up on the ideal of being a perfect parent.
I am going to be me. Imperfectly me.
But that does not mean that I am giving up on being the very best version of me that I can be. As both myself and my family deserve that. But what I am doing is being realistic about what I can achieve and accomplish with the time and space I have available. What I can achieve without compromising relationships I have with people I love and care about.
And here’s how I’m planning on making that happen.
1. Start with accepting yourself as you are now and acknowledging what you do well.
Give yourself credit where credit is due. Focus on your strengths and highest priorities. Give yourself a pat on the back for those things you do well.
“My house is always messier than I want it to to be but my kids are happy, we eat well and enjoy time together and I am doing a pretty damn kickarse job of building my business too.”
“I got cross when the kids turned their nose up at dinner again but we ended the day, as we always do, with lots of love and giggles and a fun bedtime story.”
or even, “We made it to the end of the day and we are all still alive, in one piece. That is all I can ask of today.”
You do so many good, even great, things in a day. Start there.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
I am pretty sure that it is human nature to admire those around you that do well in those areas that you struggle with. Right? (At least I hope so, otherwise I am some sort of weirdo!) I look up to a couple of friends who do such a good job of being organised and I promise myself again and again that I will get a better handle on my disorganised home. I make small, positive changes but never seem to be keep it up. What I have come to realise is that comparing myself is actually really de-motivating as I just can’t seem to attain their level of (what I see as) ‘perfection.’
So stop that comparing. Yes, some people in your life are doing a much better job than you. But they are on a different path to you. Their priorities are different to yours. Their natural strengths and talents are different to yours. That doesn’t mean you don’t have any, just that yours are different. So let’s stop that comparing, okay?
3. Be realistic and focus on things that matter.
When choosing your goals or resolutions, be truly realistic about what it is that you want to change. Make sure that it is something that really matters, that will make a real difference in your life. Think about the positive reasons why it will make a difference for you and your family – maybe it will free up more time for you to be together, maybe it will result in more positive, harmonious relationships at home, maybe it will mean you have more energy to keep up with your kids. Whatever it is, it has to be something that you really care about for you to even get past next week with your resolution in tact..let alone get through a full 12 months.
4. Work on just one change at a time.
Start small. Real small. Even smaller than that. Choose small, achievable actions and practise them.
So, I want to live healthier this year. I need to exercise and move more, I need to eat more vegetables and protein and less carbohydrate, I need to eat less sugar, I need to drink less coffee, I need to drink more water. Woah, I am exhausted even thinking about it – where is that chocolate bar!!!
I suggest choosing just one small thing – Say, I will drink four glasses of water each day, and work on that one thing for a week, a month, even two or three months. Master it. Make it a new habit and then move on to the next thing. Remember you have 12 whole months to achieve this goal. If you try to do too much at once you are likely to pack it all in as much too hard.
So instead of aiming to re-organise your whole house, start with the kitchen bench or the lounge room floor. Work on making sure that it is tidy and cleared each night for a whole week or two before choosing a new area to work on.
5. Be patient with and forgiving of yourself.
Accept that some days you just won’t kick a goal. But you know what – it matters less than you think because you know what, your children are learning by watching you strive to improve yourself and your family’s life, especially when you are knocked down and have to start again.
So you’ve had a bad day (or week!)? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, remind yourself again of all the good things you have accomplished and start again. You are a work in progress. We all are. Remember, imperfectly you!
Have you made goals or resolutions for the new year? What is your plan for achieving them?
P.S. If you would like to print out the Fresh Start poster shown in the last image, it is available here as a printable A4 poster. Stick it on the fridge or the bathroom mirror!