Having Everyday Success

by Michelle Iuelo

Here we are on the starting line, the beginning of a New Year. I’m going to use the ‘R’ word here…Resolution, did you make one? Maybe you made several. There is always a compulsion at the beginning of something new to declare our intention of effort, we make plans, talk strategy and celebrate ourselves as though success is fait accompli. In reality our success, or promise of, lasts about as long as the ice in our cocktail. Real change is hard to work into our lives permanently.

I often wonder what affect all of this declaration and defeat has on our children. Do they get the message that self-improvement is doomed for failure? I heard my oldest daughter make a resolution one year to be nicer to her little sister. She promptly finished the statement with “that should last a couple of weeks!” The room erupted with laughter. In my head I was calculating the odds at two days not weeks. I was right; while her attempts to treat her sister nicer were valiant her success had the life span of a bowl of cereal. That was the last year New Year’s Resolutions were declared in our home.

Change, self-improvement and growth should be an everyday goal anyway, right? Not a thing explored just once a year. We’ve replaced New Year’s Resolutions with New Year’s Reflection, an opportunity to acknowledge the activities, people and events that make us happy and bring us joy, in an effort to add more of the same to our everyday lives.

I love the switch from Resolution to Reflection, but what about the changes and improvements we need to make simply as a matter of personal growth? They can’t be tossed aside because they are too difficult. How can we help our children to be successful? How can we help ourselves to be successful?

It may be as easy as turning breakfast into a planning meeting. Ask your kids over a glass of OJ what they have planned for the day, what they are looking forward to and what they want to accomplish before they brush their teeth and climb into bed at the end of the day. Very successful grown-ups do this every day with themselves. They plan their day ahead on paper, list everything they desire to accomplish, then they head off. I promise they accomplish more before noon that most people do in a week!

Knowing what your children what to be successful at in a day provides the best chance we have as parents to support their efforts. It gives us clues to the opportunities and tools to put in front of them. Knowing their goals prompts us to keep them accountable to themselves by asking follow-up questions throughout the day and at the end of the day. It gives us most importantly reasons to celebrate! I finished reading my book is a high-five. I aced the spelling quiz… a celebratory hug. I perfected my somersault… pure happy dance material.

Experts recommend setting small, realistic, attainable goals and breaking large goals into bite sized pieces; “I want to get all of my homework done this week.” is easier to face than “I’m never going to miss an assignment again.” I need to lose 20 lbs. is easier when you focus on the 2 you are working on this week.  It’s easier still, when you focus on the food and exercise for the day at hand. This may be what makes breakfast work. By focusing simply on the day at hand we have greater opportunities to be successful, a better shot at turning resolutions for self-improvement into positive, doable accomplishments. Our children can see goal setting as a successful endeavour not a doomed to failure exercise. It is no secret that success fuels success.

All the best to you and your family in 2013! Here’s to a year of celebrating!!!


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