Here’s the one New Year’s resolution you need, dads. Being intentional with your children.
Time is a fascination for most everyone.
Either we think we don’t have enough time, we have too much time, or we wish time would turn back the pages of our lives.
The one truth about time is that we only have the present moment to live.
We can think about and reflect on the past and plan for the future, but today and now are all we really have at our fingertips.
This time of year is often when I hear people say, “where did this past year go?” and “I can’t believe it’s almost a new year!”
Whether your year seemed to fly by or drag it’s heels, as a dad, there never seems to be enough time to do all of the things you wanted and hoped to accomplish.
In all of the advice that I provide for parents, I tend to sound like a broken record when I repeat over and over that being intentional is one of the best strategies in raising successful kids.
Just to be sure that I’m transparent, my definition of successful kids includes…
- Kids who have a strong sense of purpose.
- Kids who have a healthy sense of self.
- Kids who are emotionally stable.
- Kids who know how to handle loss and disappointment.
- Kids who know and live through their actions that giving is better than getting.
Raising kids who embody this success definition doesn’t happen by accident.
It comes from being intentional as a parent in…
what you say,
what you do and
how you live life
A friend of mine once shared with me what he does during the last two weeks of December every year to prepare for the coming new year.
I thought it was an absolutely brilliant way to practice being intentional.
His preparation primarily focused on his business planning, but also took into account his personal and family life.
Here’s his strategy that I believe is an amazing way to use the end of the year to reflect and renew as well as to set goals and plan for the weeks and months ahead.
As you begin this activity you may find that you only recorded activities on your calendar this past year that were work or appointment related.
If that’s the case and you did not also record family, leisure and personal time, you can always add those in from memory.
Once you experience this activity, you may decide to start the new year by calendaring more areas of your life so that at the end of next year, you have a great record of how your time was spent.
- Take out your calendar for the entire year that is now ending. If this is an electronic calendar, it will make this activity a bit easier, but using a paper calendar works, too.
- Decide on a color you want to use for each of the following life areas: work, family, leisure, personal time (exercising, meditating, or any other activities you do alone).
- Go back to January of this year and begin to color code the items listed on your calendar to each of these four areas. If you are doing it electronically, then simply highlight your calendar item with different colors. If your calendar is paper, using highlighter pens works great.
- Continue on highlighting your categories through all twelve months of the year.
- After you have completed this, you can begin taking some notes.
The notes you take are based on your thinking and reflection time over the past year.
The highlighted calendar events make it easier to see patterns of time throughout the year.
There are three levels or layers of reflection.
The first level focuses on frequency of events and balance of life areas.
Maybe you will discover you are not satisfied with the amount of time or frequency you invested in one or more life areas.
You may find some life areas are practically nonexistent on your calendar.
Regardless of what you discover while you are reviewing and reflecting on your year, there are wonderful insights to be gained and even some lessons to learn.
In my experience, this exercise has shown me which life areas needed more of my attention and which ones were somewhat out of balance for me.
A second level of reflection over the yearly calendar items is to assess them with regard to these questions:
- Did that activity/event have the outcome I expected?
- Was that activity/event worth the time I invested in it?
- Will I repeat this activity/event in the coming year?
- Is this something that I will not included in the coming year?
And finally, the third level of reflection has to do with people.
As you think about your calendar events over the year, undoubtedly they bring to mind a variety of people that you interacted with, did business with, or in some way spent time.
Whether in business or personal life, there are always certain people who add so much to our lives by their mentorship, friendship or through a business relationship.
These are the people we can be intentional about making sure we spend even more time with in the coming year.
There are also people in our lives that, when we reflect on it carefully, were really “subtractors” in our lives rather than “adders.”
They never really added anything positive to our lives and they usually cause us distress, delays or are simply a distraction.
When it’s possible, it’s a great leap forward to be more intentional in the coming year to intentionally limit your time with the “subtractors” in your life.
Here’s the payoff for taking the time to do all of this in your role as a dad.
Once you’ve taken yourself through this calendar reflection exercise, you can help your kids do exactly the same thing!
Of course for younger kids, it may just be a conversation about their year while writing some notes for them or with them.
The younger child’s notes or reminders for the new year could be as simple as a short list of reminders for things they want to do more of, and things they want to do less of, or those they wish to stop all together.
Their list can be reviewed with you periodically during the new year to see how they are doing, as well as to allow you to provide them encouragement.
For older kids and teens who keep a calendar or planner, this is a great way to start a conversation with them about the power of evaluating how they used their time.
You can help them review their planner for the year and what things worked well for them and which things they may want to improve or even eliminate.
Regardless of the age of the kids, there are such valuable lessons learned from taking the time at the close of the year to reflect, review and plan for the new year ahead.
I’ve learned from personal experience the old saying, “experience is the best teacher” just simply isn’t true. The better version of the quote, according to author John Maxwell, is “evaluated experience is the best teacher.”
Now that the holidays are over and the New Year is on it’s way, give yourself and your kids one more gift… the gift of an intentional life!
Photo credit: Getty Images