I admit it – I do well with resolutions. I truly believe that people tend to accomplish more when they set goals. I love to rise to a challenge. And I find that setting a formal (and preferably public) goal definitely has a way of bringing out our competitive nature.
So when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I’m a believer. As someone dedicated to promoting health and safety year-round, I obviously think it’s important to set goals throughout the year. But if ushering in a new year happens to give you an increased sense of motivation, then run with it. Now is the perfect time to shift from helping your children create holiday wish lists to helping them (and you) focus on setting realistic family goals that can deliver an even happier, healthier 2012.
So what’s the best way to figure out what your family goals should be? While each family member’s individual resolutions can be customized by age, ability, and circumstance, it also is helpful to start with some simple family-friendly resolutions – you know, those completely do-able resolutions that don’t seem nearly as challenging as, say, signing up for a gym membership in January only to lack the willpower come March to make use of it. Or running a marathon.
While there’s nothing wrong with either of those resolutions (I’ve made them both myself in years past), you can build a sense of accomplishment by first reaching for the “low-hanging fruit” resolutions. These also can deliver a big bang for your buck when it comes to improved health, safety and well-being.
Walk more. Around the block, to the grocery store, with friends, on the treadmill – wherever and whenever you can. Running is fine, too. But if that seems a bit daunting or impractical, the important thing for kids and adults alike is to be more active in 2012. I just ordered a FitBit to help with my resolutions. It’s easier to put your best foot forward with a concrete goal (or a cool new gadget). Using a pedometer may prove to be just what it takes to get going.
Sleep more. Who doesn’t want to sleep more? Most of us simply don’t get enough sleep. I also have become increasingly impressed with how important sleep is to one’s overall health. So whether it’s an improved bedtime routine for babies or toddlers, taking/keeping the TV set out of your child’s bedroom, keeping tabs on your teenager’s sleep habits or simply placing more value on your own sleep needs – I strongly recommend it.
Read more. Daily, whenever possible. Not just for work, not just when your kids are required to, but for fun. Read aloud to your kids. Read quietly alongside them. Make a point of reading the newspaper. Encourage your tweens or teens to start reading it, too. Read on paper or in any electronic form you choose. Regardless of what angle you take, resolving to read more will enrich your family’s new year.
Drink more. Water, that is. During a recent trip to New York City to meet with a wide range of magazine editors, I discussed water as a key aspect of health, hydration and tackling the obesity epidemic. I then decided to toss this on my own list of resolutions. This is such an easy one, once you and your family set your minds to it. Encouraging more water consumption also can get everyone (kids and parents alike) to drink less soda, less juice and less sugary liquids in general. If your family is not in the water-drinking habit, consider committing to milk with meals and water with snacks, and making water taste better by filtering it, by filling re-usable water bottles, and by adding natural flavor with a wedge of lemon or lime or a slice of cucumber.
Engage more. Social networking now seems to be the key to everything from successful weight loss to professional success. Yet one of the things we risk in what is sure to be an increasingly wired (or wireless) 2012 is the lack of meaningful, personal engagement with others in our community. That’s why I firmly believe that all families should set a goal of teaching their children to more actively engage and become contributing members of society. Taking some lessons from the Helping Hands curriculum at my child care center, this can be as simple yet meaningful as having even very young children visit the Humane Society or a local retirement home; send letters of thanks to those serving in the military; and/or collect mittens, books, pennies, diapers, coats or cans of food for those less fortunate. Whatever you choose, remember that one of the most powerful lessons we can teach our children (and live by ourselves) is that it is our meaningful connection with others that brings the most happiness.
Laugh more. At yourself, with your kids…the point is that while resolutions can be a good way to improve one’s health, it’s just as important to make sure that stress doesn’t get the best of you. I’ve found the best way to do this is to remember to laugh, and always remind yourself how fortunate you are to have your family, your friends, your health and the gift of another year.
I wish you all a very happy, healthy and accomplished new year. I’ll look forward to sharing 2012 with you and everyone in the LiveWellNebraska community.