Resolutions & Goals
I used to work at YMCA, and it was interesting to learn, during my first year working there, that the busiest time of year for the YMCA was the month of January, practically the first week in January!
It is coming close to that time of year again when we all make well-meaningful resolutions/goals to exercise more, eat healthy, or perhaps pray more in the coming year. We all start out well in the new year with the perfect goal in mind, and then life happens, and we realize that perhaps our perfect resolution/goal was not so perfect.
Therefore, this year as you and your family each plan out your resolutions and goals for the coming year, consider trying something new to help you stick to your resolution or goal for the whole year.
Two ways to stick with New Year’s Resolutions/Goals
On New Year's Day, the Octave of Christmas, have each family member write out their resolutions/goals for the coming year. Then, when everyone is finished, put them away in a sealed envelope, in a spot that is visible, to be examined next New Year's Eve. As you see this envelope over the course of the year, perhaps pick a time, as a family, to open the envelope to check how everyone is doing on their resolutions/goals.
A Spiritual Plan of Life – A Spiritual Plan of Life is meant to help give order to our lives and have a “schedule” that will help us to be better every day. In simple terms, it a combination of resolutions that each person sets for him/herself for the month, and day after day “marks” whether they fulfilled their resolutions. However, it is not a “schedule” in the strict sense since the activities do not have be carried out at a specific time. It does not have to be exclusively “spiritual”: It can incorporate physical, intellectual, or recreational activities.
The Spiritual Plan of Life for the Family
The Spiritual Plan of Life is assessable to each member of the family.
Begin by finding a journal or a notebook, add the month, and the date and then add your resolutions/goals. For example, on January 1st, 2021 my goal for the day is to attend Mass, exercise, and eat one healthy meal. If you are going to change your resolutions/goals each day, then it is helpful to plan it the night before and at the end of the day check off what you have accomplished. You can set it up in the way that works best for you, a new resolution/goal each day, or each month or one or two for the whole year.
For younger children it is helpful to create a picture sheet with the items that they need to accomplish that day, month, or year. For example, homework, chores, prayers, etc.… This helps establish a routine for children and instills in them the lesson of setting goals and completing them.
For teens, help them create goals that are attainable throughout that day and write them down.
The characteristics of a good resolution/goal - SMART Goals
S: Specific - Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you will not be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the five "W" questions: What do I want to accomplish? Why is this goal important? Who is involved? Where is it located? Which resources or limits are involved?
M: Measurable - It is important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal. A measurable goal should address questions such as: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?
A: Attainable - Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it. An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as: How can I accomplish this goal? How realistic is the goal?
R: Relevant - This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it is important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you are still responsible for achieving your own goal. A relevant goal can answer "yes" to these questions: Does this seem worthwhile? Is this the right time? Does this match our other efforts/needs?
T: Time-based - Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals. A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions: When? What can I do six months from now? What can I do six weeks from now? What can I do today?
Resources from: Catholic Culture; Schoenstatt.org; SMART Goals (Mind Tools)