Teens and adults alike think that they should set several goals at the start of a new year. However, setting goals can be counterproductive, result in frustration and begin a vicious cycle of self-defeating behavior from which it is difficult to recover. Instead, teach your son how to develop life habits, which focus on long-term behaviors, instead of setting temporary goals.
While setting and reaching goals can lead to admirable accomplishments, such as achievements in sports and surpassing their own expectations, people, including tend to focus too much on reaching the goal instead of considering the steps they will need to take to reach that goal. For example, if a teen wants to lose 20 pounds, he might exercise, count calories, increase water intake and cut sugar out of his diet. If he focuses on making these changes as part of a permanent lifestyle with new habits instead of focusing on simply losing the weight, he will naturally reach his goal of losing the 20 pounds because he has implemented new habits. The following habits will serve your son well as he moves onto college and into the workforce.
Develop a Routine
A routine helps people stay on task with lifestyle habits. For example, if you plan to develop a lifestyle of healthy eating, you might need to block out some time for shopping and meal prep on Sunday evenings that you can have healthy meals ready for the week. By disciplining yourself and setting aside the same time for meal prep — or exercising or personal reflection or writing that book or any other habit — each week, you will be more likely to continue in those same habits.
View the Proverbial Glass as Half Full Instead of Half Empty
While it’s easy to fall into discouragement, teach your son to flip a negative statement and voice the positive version instead. For example, if he feels a cold coming on, instead of saying that he is getting sick, he can say that he is getting better. This isn’t a reason for him to ignore legitimate challenges but instead to focus on the positives.
Instead of focusing on what your son is doing wrong, teach him to switch out bad habits for good ones. For example, if he is drinking too much soda, he can substitute water or unsweetened, decaf tea. By replacing bad habits with productive ones, he will learn to develop a healthy lifestyle.
Delay Present Satisfaction for a Future Dream
Most people want what they want now. They don’t want to wait. However, maturity means learning to defer an immediate want that is usually temporary for a future want that is likely more permanent. For example, if your teen has $300 extra per month in his budget and is planning a trip to Europe that costs $2,000 for a week, he will need to intentionally save for about 7 months to reach his goal.
Focusing on productive habits, such as saving instead of spending and discipline instead of laziness, can help your teen achieve his lifestyle goals.
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