Reflect back on 2015, focusing on the accomplishments and gratitude that are forefront on your heart. What are you proud of? What were the defining moments?
How did you grow? I know you’re busy and you don’t want to pause and write them down—you want to keep reading and maybe list some in your head while you read on or imagine that you’ll come back and do it another day. Trust me: it’s worth the time it takes to write them down; you’ll think of even more events, accomplishments and gratitudes and you’ll get the wholehearted satisfaction that comes from seeing a year’s worth of greatness in one list. Share your list with your family and ask to hear their 2015 lists. Celebrate the brave humans that you are.
Take a moment and imagine it’s this time next year: you’re reflecting back on 2016 and feeling an overwhelming sense of it having been one of the best years of your life. That’s right, one of your very best. This is because you were more consistent than ever before at showing up for your life in the ways that are most meaningful to you. Think about it: what would have to happen and who would you need to be in 2016 to make that so? You could even, ahem, make a list. Post it where you’ll see it.
How do you most enjoy spending time with your family? Now that you’re done making that list, ask your family members how they most enjoy sharing family time. Notice if and where these lists overlap (you might be surprised) and think about how often you really plan for and value these activities. For instance, as a parent, I constantly find myself romanticizing how much family fun and connection we’re going to experience in various events (often the most complicated holiday events or vacations) only to be left feeling let down and stressed out. Often when I think back about that supposed family-fun activity, I realize it was doomed from the beginning because it was an activity that isn’t enjoyed by all of us—or any of us (I’m looking at you, chaotic trick-or-treating event at the mall).
On the other hand, reading books together, coloring as a family, dance party in the kitchen, swimming—those are winners every time but I am less likely to intentionally schedule them. Can you relate? What if, in 2016, we prioritize and schedule around our shared most enjoyable family time activities regardless of how simple or mundane they are? This isn’t to say there won’t be compromises and family events that don’t top the enjoyment list for the entire family, but sometimes knowing that going in, helps everyone adjust their expectations for the outcome.
It’s easy to set the same lofty goals every December 31st and imagine that this next year is going to be the year that everything finally clicks into place and it suddenly becomes easy to harness the discipline and magic for a total life makeover. I’m here to encourage you to dream smaller, because often that’s where the best stuff lives—and let’s face it, the easier it is, the more likely we are to actually do it. So let 2016 be the year of family dinners where everyone shares the high and low moments of their day or something they’re grateful for. Or the year of hugs or compliments or tracking how many books your family reads. Let that be enough; it’s bigger, deeper work than you realize. Pick a word or phrase that will be your 2016 theme and set to work noticing the small moments and memories that make up a fantastic year.