Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA
Setting the right New Year’s resolutions can change our lives for the better. Unfortunately, the word ‘failure’ has become synonymous with the word ‘resolution’. Many times we set random goals, or goals we think will bring us certain benefits only to find ourselves giving up soon after we begin.
The problem is not that we can’t complete goals; the problem is that we choose the wrong ones and we choose them for the wrong reasons. In the meantime, as parents and other adults mischoose and struggle to complete goals, the kids and teens are watching (and copying).
If teens learn to set proper goals at an early age, they won’t grow up only to repeat the typical mistakes they learned from adults. Their decisions will be based on who they are and on ideas that are important to them.
Here are some tips to guide you and your teen on how to pick personalized goals; goals that are based on her (and your) preferences, on what is important to her/you, and goals that will bring her/you fulfilment and joy.
1. Strengths: Parents often encourage teens to work on their weaknesses in an attempt to make them well balanced individuals. Although this sounds logical, I encourage you to allow your teen to focus on her strengths. This focus will allow her to build her strengths to full potential. No one is excellent at everything but everyone has the potential to be excellent at their unique strengths. Guide your teen to incorporate her strengths when picking a New Year’s resolution. [Note: being well-balanced is about setting goals is various life domains, not about being good at everything.]
2. Natural interest: Natural interest is a guide to what your teen is meant to do in life. It is a guide to her life passion. It ought to be nurtured and enjoyed and you and your teen ought to be proud of her innate interest. I encourage parents to praise this natural interest and provide activities where teens can enjoy it and explore it. New Year’s resolutions that contain a part of their natural interest are more likely to be continued when the going gets tough.
3. Values: What family values and personal values are important to your teen? Goals that ignore your teen’s value system will leave her feeling unfulfilled and without much success (even if the goal is achieved). Remember, that your teen’s unique values bring meaning her life. When values are not incorporated into her everyday living, it leaves your teen vulnerable to a less fulfilling life.
4. Psychological needs: Emotional and psychological needs are unique to every person and unmet needs lead to frustration and ‘acting out.’ As such, do not get trapped by the idea that all your children require same type of feedback. Allow your children to pick goals that are unique them. What type of feedback does your teen enjoy? What is she hoping to achieve by setting certain goal? If she hopes to capture people’s approval she may be setting herself up for a disappointment. Guide her to set goals that will fulfill her needs, not another’s. Example of psychological needs include to feel accepted, to feel free, to be admired, to be appreciated, to be forgiving, to be productive, etc.
Many blessings to you and your family in the New Year!
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto