The New Year is here and we are sure many of you have already crafted your perfect New Year resolutions- challenging, imagining, inventing with a new determination and confidence.

And yet it is such a common experience with New Year resolutions, that no matter how passionately we set them, and attempt to keep them little by little; by spring they become a distant memory.  So disconcerting it can seem at times, that many of us may have abandoned the exercise altogether.

However, we do believe that setting new year resolutions has benefits both for us and our children who can learn a lot about the value of setting goals and regulating their own feelings, behaviours and thoughts in the process. Many of us may already know about the gold standard of goal-setting; the SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time dependent) and yet they fail us or we fail them! We think there’s a critical ingredient missing here that makes achieving goals very difficult.

We believe play has a lot to teach us about making New Year resolutions that can make a difference. One of the first things about play is that it is almost always voluntarily chosen. We decide what to play, how to play, when to play and for how long! And the other thing about play is that no matter whether we win or lose, we have a great time engaging in the play. If we could bring the same characteristics to our New Year resolutions, we are more likely to succeed while we have a whole lot of fun. Thus, choose goals that you care about, that you want and not just stuff that you or someone else thinks you should do. And while we all want to win and reach the destination, breaking the goal into steps like a game is far more enjoyable & easy to achieve. We play to feel good and similarly with our goals, no matter what happens, the focus should be on enjoying the process. Most of us stay in a game long enough till we’ve finished it, even when it gets tough and similarly, our goals sometimes ask us to hang in there till we can make a move!

Adding a dose of playfulness and creativity to your traditional New Year goals can also change the equation and will work really well with the children too!

  1. Create a Personal Mission Statement: Turn the boring goals into a personal/secret mission for the year. Write the mission, the steps to achieve the mission. You may also consider brainstorming obstacles that might come in the way & the superpowers you will enlist to navigate those obstacles (e.g. support, skills etc).
  2. Give yourself a Title for the year and play it out: Unleash your creativity & make it fun, whacky and inspiring. E.g. “Executive Producer of humour”, “Chief Play Officer”, “Strength Detective.” Just like a job description, describe your roles, responsibilities and tasks that you will carry out in this position. Keep checking in throughout the year, if you are on track!
  3. Create a photo album for the upcoming year: For those of you, who like to think in images, look through magazines or the web for a couple of photographs that align with what you want for yourself in the year. They could be photographs of places you want to go to, experiences that you may want, feelings that you want to experience etc.

There’s a Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, where Hobbes asks Calvin if he is setting any goals for the New Year. And Calvin replies “Yeah, I’m resolving to just wing it and see what happens.” To which Hobbes says, “So you’re staying the course?” And Calvin characteristically answers, “I stick to my strengths.”

So whether you believe in setting goals or not, as you reflect on your dreams and desires for the year, make sure you play it with your strengths and all that is incredibly amazing about you!

With warmest wishes for a New Year filled with unforgettable moments of chuckles!