If you’re making New Year’s Resolutions this year, keep them simple. Want your family to spend less time in front of their various devices? Set aside a screen-free Saturday…morning instead of the full day. Trying to get in shape? Start by leaving your car behind one day a week and walking your kids to school instead of driving. Thinking about becoming vegetarian? Make Monday meatless instead of quitting the food group cold, er, turkey.
According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, tiny changes make a big difference.
Imagine a plane taking off from Los Angeles en route to New York, writes Clear. If, during takeoff, the pilot decided to adjust course 3.5 degrees to the south, the plane’s nose would move just a few feet.
“Outside of the cockpit, no one on board would notice the small movement. But over the course of a journey across the country, the impact of the change would be considerable, and the confused passengers would alight from their plane in Washington, DC, not New York.”
We don’t notice tiny changes because their immediate impact is negligible, he adds, but if we repeat small behaviours day after day, our choices compound into major results.
Asha Dornfest, founder of Parent Hacks and co-author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less says to embrace the idea of course correction. In an interview for the New York Times she said when faced with a parenting decision, briefly survey your options then make the best choice you can, knowing you can recalculate your route to the destination as the situation—and your family—changes.
And remember: New Year’s resolutions aren’t just another to-do list.
Rivka Caroline, author of From Frazzled to Focused says another way to achieve your goals is to keep adding to your “to-don’t” list.
“As frustrating as it is, there just isn’t time for everything. “Every ‘to-don’t’ makes room for a ‘to-do.’ Keep adding to your ‘to-don’t’ list.”
And think about how you want to spend your downtime.
“Weekends, evenings and vacations can be opportunities for adventure,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend. “But we often lose them in front of the TV because we fail to plan.” Make a bucket list of the fun you want to have as a family, she suggests, then get those ideas on the calendar.
Then celebrate every drop in the bucket, I’d add, not just when the bucket is full.
Happy New Year.