LifeTip: On Groundhog Day and New Years Resolutions

There’s two main lines of brain and behavior science that influence New Year’s resolutions: The science of habits and the science of self-stories.

It’s that time of year folks. The time where the lofty resolutions of the new year have given way to the realities of everday life, when old routines sink in again and we find ourselves feeling let down and frustrated. Maybe you remember all the times you've set goals for the new year only to find that by Groundhog Day, it's déjà vu all over again, and you're back to square one.

Maybe it isn't you. Maybe it's actually that New Years Resolutions just dont work! Psychology Today has shared some tips on how to align your resolutions, any time of year, with science to set you up for success when you want to make a change that lasts. The first part is a 3-step method to changing a habit thats based in brain science:

  • You must pick a small action.
  • You must attach the new action to a previous habit.
  • You must make the new action easy to do for at least the first week.

Essentially, you’ll be creating a new conditioned response that will allow for a better chance at long-term change. Lasting change also requires new actions that align with your self-story, that narrative that we all have about who we are, what we are capable of, what our limitations are, and what matters to us. Check out the full article for more tips and let’s agree to leave unattainable resolutions in the past and set our collective sights on small, manageable and meaningful changes in the coming year!

get smart: goal setting with your tween

We know with summer rapidly approaching, kids are eager to leave school behind and just relax! The last thing on their minds is planning ahead. However, summer offers a great time to sit down and talk with your tween without all the pressure of homework, what to wear to school and how to squeeze in all those after school activities! Parents can use this time to help their tween learn how to set SMART goals, practice a little over the summer, and then start back to school in the fall with a solid plan.

SMART goals stands for:

  • Specific-The who, what, when, where and why of goals
  • Measurable-How will you know when the goal has been met?
  • Attainable-We're not talking about a goal to meet Princess Kate, right?
  • Relevent-Let's set a goal that matters to all involved
  • Timely-Give it a set time frame: not too long, not to short

The part many people skip over is the very first step: Get specific! Let's say you set a goal with your tween to take on more chores around the house. What does more mean? How long will she have to add on each new chore? Who will decide when it's done? What will happen if the chore isn't completed to Mom & Dad's standards? What happens when the goal is met? What's in it for your tween?

When you and your tween get the hang of setting small, SMART goals, you can help her use these skills to set her own goals. Perhaps she's always wanted to have the fastest sprint in 7th grade, or learn to play guitar or make a new friend at summer camp? When we help tweens learn the value of identifying and breaking down their goals into manageable pieces, they can take these tools and use them to gain confidence as they begin to meet, and exceed, their goals!

If you practice now, by the time school starts in the fall you and your tween will be goal-pros and you can use these steps to make homework less daunting (for both of you)! Fun summer family goals can include planting a vegetable garden, building a house through Habitat for Humanity, or planning a series of road trips that get you to all the state parks within a 4-hour drive. The practice tweens get from collaborating on these goals is invaluable, and they might not even realize they're learning anything along the way because they'll be having such a good time!