Skip the Resolution. Make it a Goal!

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You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.

-C.S. Lewis

Welcome to 2014!

Another year is done, and a new one begins! And what are we all doing today?

Recovering from staying up all night and.....making goals.

Goals for ourselves, our children, how we use our money, what we do at work and at play....  You name it, and people are setting goals about it today.

In the next few days we'll hear and read story after story about New Year's Resolutions. In a month (or sooner!), we'll see stories about how those resolutions failed.  It's enough to keep a person from trying!

Failed resolutions have a few things in common:

  • They are driven by emotion.
  • They're made impulsively.
  • They are dramatic (big) in scope and effect.
  • They target an issue that is complex.

Goals, on the other hand, are thoughtfully crafted steps that lead to long-term change for the better. Goals are the conscious beginnings of habits, or grooves.

Like resolutions, goals have things in common. Successful goals:

  • Are 99.9% achievable when you make them. You can see how to be successful. You can taste success when you begin.
  • Are discrete. A goal focuses on one action or change. for example,  "I will walk 20 minutes at lunch three days a week"; or "will practice good posture when working at my desk."; or "I will eat a piece of fresh fruit with lunch every day."
  • Have a clear beginning and end.
  • Include a plan: what day, what time, and with whom you will take action.
  • Are easy to measure. Success - or not quite success - is clear.

For parents of children with disabilities, the concept of setting goals is a snap. We've done goal setting since our kids were born. The beauty of this is that you can do it yourself. It doesn't require a team. Your goals are your own. Working with a partner to reach individual goals is a good idea. You may even have the same ones. 

Goal Depositphotos 2304027 original-wGoals are also good for our kids! Especially around health related changes. Parents take note: your child - regardless of age - needs to choose their own goal! That choice gives the decision power and ownership. That’s essential for success. Our role is a support role. We support them in creating a goal and not a resolution without being a wet blanket for their dream. (That last part is the hardest for parents, I understand!)

What does it mean to provide that guidance so a goal is reachable?  It means using questions to help your child make an informed choice. The hardest part for families is not leading the choice so it's what we want them to do!

Here's an example of how a conversation might go for wellness related goals:

Mom:  Suzy, we're all choosing one thing to do to improve our health this year! I am going to work on walking because I need more activity. Your father is going to improve his food choices. Aunt Sally is working on her diabetes. And Uncle John is making a plan to quit smoking. Is there something you would like to do be more healthy?

Suzy:  Yes!

Mom: What do you want to do?

Suzy: I want to look like Miley Cyrus!

Mom: Hmmm. (thinking that's not the role model you had in mind). What is healthy about Miley Cyrus?

Suzy: She's sexy!

Mom: Hmmm. So what's healthy about being sexy?

Suzy: She's skinny.

Mom: Ok. So what you're saying is that you want to work on your weight?

Suzy: Yes!

Mom: Ok. What do you think you need to do?

Suzy: I don't know!

Mom: That's Ok.  Do you want me to help you figure out your choices?

Suzy: Yes!

And that's where you can start creating a list of options. This Mom was great at avoiding the temptation to point out that looking like Miley Cyrus may not be a possibility. That part is not important. It will come with time. However, you want to squash any idea that the outcome will be that your daughter is swinging around on a wrecking ball. Instead, focus on the health behaviors that are necessary to be in shape to be able to dance for hours and so on.

The truth is that working through weekly goals is the easy part, though tedious. The hard part is choosing a benchmark that is realistic to begin with. I have every faith you can do it!

To help you on your way, I'm offering a goal setting worksheet  updated from Activity 10 in my book, The Down Syndrome Nutrition Handbook. Click here to download your copy.

May your 2014 be a healthful one!


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