How to Set and Accomplish New Year's Resolutions with Your Family
Get everyone involved to make each goal a reality.
The new year often brings refreshed perspectives and a renewed chance to accomplish your goals. With that being said, members of your very own family could have the same ones, and in turn, you can work together to achieve them. "As we've often learned, there is power in unified numbers—whether that is to accomplish something tangibly great or support that is desperately needed," says Dr. Lepora Flournoy, SPHR, SHRM-SCP. "The family unit is a great source of emotional support as well as a great place to invest and maintain healthy relationships that will serve us in all areas of our lives."
Plus, having your family in your corner to plan out your goals could be encouraging since you can lean on each other. "Family plays a key role in our ability to connect with ourselves and to the world around us since it is our first touchstone with the concept of attachment and interdependence; what we can't do alone, we can do together," Heather Monroe, LCSW, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, shares. "This is why creating New Year's resolutions with your family (blood or chosen) can be a wonderful tradition to share in; not only does it improve ourselves as individuals but strengthens the bond we have with those we are closest to." No matter if you have younger children in your household or adult kids living off on their own, our experts note that building out goals together will still strengthen your relationship with each other even more. Ahead, we tapped them to share their best advice to tackle new year's resolutions as a family unit.
How to Create the Family Resolution
When kicking off the resolutions process, Dr. Flournoy recommends that each family member share their individual goals with each other. "This step is important because in any group, including a family, the group is made up of individuals," she says. This should also be a safe space filled with people who can hold you accountable on a regular basis for your goals. Also, creating individual goals first will ensure that family goals still honor everyone's separate aspirations in the household. "For example, if many family members love skiing, they may want a family New Year's resolution to be skiing together more often in order to get more time with each other. However, if one family member hates the cold, then that may not be the best collective resolution. The family New Year's resolution should honor everyone in the family."
From here, you can sit down (or have a virtual chat) with family to talk through what every member of the family wants in a family resolution. For example, if there are older children in the family, Monroe suggests hosting a holiday, going on a family vacation, calling each other regularly, or starting a gratitude circle on Zoom as possible New Year's resolutions. If you have little ones in the family, there are still just as many great ideas for yearly goals—like creating reading time, exercising together, eating healthier as a family, enjoying mealtime as a unit, or having a game night each week (sans phones, TVs, or other devices). "An important thing to remember is you want your family resolution to feel doable and not overwhelming," she adds. "After you write a list of all the things the family would like to commit to in the coming year, you can then shorten it, landing on one or two commitments as a family."
How to Achieve the Goals
One of the best parts about making resolutions family-style? Monroe believes that it empowers each person to hold each other accountable. "If the family resolved to have Sunday dinners together and someone is thinking of skipping out, it's important to remind that person of the resolution and what it means to everyone who made it," she says. But if someone isn't able to continue on with the goal, don't skip out on it as a whole. "That is part of the beauty of group resolutions; it isn't dependent on one person," adds Monroe. "This is also a lesson in family resilience, we do not collapse when one of us can't hold the unit up, because a family does not stand on one person alone."
You can also help and encourage each other to complete the New Year's resolutions by placing the list in a dashboard space that is frequently visited by the whole family. "The purpose of the dashboard is to report, share, and track the progress toward the resolution," Dr. Flournoy says. "The dashboard could be located in a frequently visited family room and/or on a shared electronic drive for each to access anywhere at any time." She adds that this dashboard should have the goal(s), a note specifying how often it should be updated, a place for everyone to share their progress, and a timeframe when the efforts should be made. "Of course, many goals are lifetime goals," Dr. Flournoy says. "Once such habits are established—like quarterly family trips, for example—other goals may become resolutions." Once you have accomplished the resolution, that doesn't mean to throw it away the next year with new resolutions. You should maintain the family practices and continue to honor them, she adds.