We’re busy people. And we’ve passed this busy attitude on to our kids. We rush around from one thing to the next, from one year to the next, without ever stopping to reflect and take stock of where we are and where we want to go.
The start of a New Year is a great time for setting goals and thinking about what we want from life and how to get it, but we cannot possibly do this if we’re still dragging around all the baggage from the previous year.
This December, give yourself and your kids the gift of starting 2017 with a clean slate, and then get into the habit of doing this regularly so that your emotional cups are not full to overflowing as you tackle the new challenges of a new year. This can be a wonderful family activity that you can all do together during the holidays.
Here’s how to do it…
- Each of you makes a list of everything wonderful that happened in the past year. Jot down (or young kids can draw pictures) all your achievements, things you’ve learned, friends you’ve made, things that happened that made you feel excited or alive, fun times, wins, beautiful moments, etc. It is always nice to start with the positive, and too often we’re so caught up in the negative that we don’t realize that every year has both good and bad. Help your kids to acknowledge some of the good and to give themselves a good hearty pat on the back!
- Then look at things that could’ve gone slightly better. Perhaps there were some dramas that you could have done without, some areas that needed improvement, things that if you did them again, you’d like to do differently. The focus here is not on the negative, but on what can be learned and how this can be applied in the New Year.
- Finally look at the bad stuff – those things you wish had never happened. Now with these, you need to help your kids to neutralize the negative emotions associated with these events. Grab a nice big sheet of paper and some coloured markers and start brainstorming all the good that came out of these ‘negative’ events. Find out what you’ve learned, how it helped you to grow, what hidden gifts were lurking in there. Don’t stop looking for positives until you are feeling truly grateful for the experience.
It is so important to move into a new year with a sense of completion from what happened before, otherwise we bring that negativity and resistance and fear into the year right from the start. Think about how many kids have had a terrible, nasty teacher and have allowed that one experience to mar their experience of school forever. If you approach the next year and the next teacher assuming that it will be a repeat of what was, or not learning the lesson that was tied up in that experience, then you set yourself up for more of the same.
Help your kids to have realistic expectations of the year ahead by reminding them that every year has successes and challenges, and that if they find the greater meaning in the ‘bad’ times, then every year is a celebration of life.