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Healthcare 101: Are you sticking to those resolutions? Tips to make them last

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? If so, here’s hoping it’s going well!

As January draws to a close, though, it’s worth considering a new approach to goal-setting:

In this new decade, why not try making family resolutions along with individual ones?

Here are a few reasons to consider this approach:

  1. Research shows that having a “goal buddy” helps us stay accountable. One study found that people have a 65% chance of completing a goal when they commit along with another person. Even better news: The study found that your chances of success jump to 95% when you incorporate ongoing check-in meetings with your partner(s). Family dinner, anyone?
  2. Making resolutions can help kids practice self-discipline. Experts say children need opportunities to control their impulses — and every time a child chooses to shift gears from what they want to do to what they need to do, they build the neural pathways that regulate self-discipline.

Learning how to stay motivated, overcome obstacles and stick to a plan are incredibly valuable skills for every stage of life.

All that said, are you ready to make some resolutions along with your nearest and dearest? Good!

Then let’s get inspired, because it’s not too late to have a family meeting and set goals for the new year. Here are the first steps:

  1. Sit down together and review the past year. Dr. Benjamin Siegel, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, suggests that parents say, “Each one of us is going to state a few things that we want to continue to do and things we’d like to change that would make us feel better about ourselves and how our family works.”
    Each family member then shares a success story from the past year and an area where they want to do better moving forward.
    If you’re a parent, it might help to offer your examples first and record everyone’s goals on paper. (Later, you can hang the list on your fridge as a reminder!)
    P.S. Check out this great article from PBS for healthy, age-appropriate resolutions for kids from toddlerhood to adolescence.
  2. In addition to individual goals, set a few resolutions for the entire family. It’s best if these are specific and measurable so you can track your family’s progress. You could start a weekly ritual like a family bike ride, commit to a set amount of screen time per day, or sign up to spend a weekend volunteering together. Need more inspiration? Here are 10 more ideas for family resolutions.
  3. Evaluate your progress once a month and cheer on each victory. As your family members achieve small successes, give them — and yourself! — a pat on the back.“Tell yourself something positive, like ‘I did this first part!’ or ‘This feels good,’” says Dr. Deborah Serani. “Short-term reinforcement is vital to keeping [up] newly learned behaviors.”

We hope these tips (and the idea of future victory celebrations) will get you excited for all the things your family will achieve in 2020!