As we exit the simultaneous wonder and frenzy of the holiday season, this can be an excellent time to look ahead to the coming year with motivation, enthusiasm, and hope. A wonderful way to embrace the beginning of a new calendar year is to formally set intentions and goals for yourself and your family.
But as we learned in 2020, events in the world can lay waste to the best laid plans. So rather than create strict expectations for ourselves and our families, why not engage in some intention-setting activities in which the activities themselves, more so than the goals set, bring us joy? Below you’ll find a handful of suggestions to try, along with a booklist that may inspire even more ideas.
Writing down some ideas as a family can often be more enjoyable than coming up with “goals” alone, especially if children are still young enough to say ridiculously entertaining things. Begin with a very basic outline or framework, and let your children fill in the rest. For added fun, make it into a cute poster that you display somewhere in your home. Some ideas for “sections” to include could be:
- Things we want to do: Think of this as your 2021 bucket list. Is there anywhere you’ve been wanting to go, games you’ve been wanting to play, activities you’ve been wanting to try? Write them down! And don’t feel the need to fill your poster now. You can always add ideas as you come up with them later.
- Ways we can help: What little things can you do to make the world – or just your local community – a better place?
- Family Motto: Come up with a succinct phrase or sentence that highlights your family’s priorities for the year. (This is an especially fun one over which you can give the kids complete control.)
- Motivation: What encouragement can you give yourselves to keep you going as the weeks/months move on? You could write down cheerful phrases or the kids could draw pictures to encourage you. Remember that poster of a cat hanging from a tree branch? Draw something that inspires you to “hang in there”!
- Good job: Leave this section blank at first, and write (or draw) compliments to each other as the year progresses.
Seasonal Idea Lists
Maybe the thought of coming up with fun things you’d like to do for the whole year is too much. You could always break your idea lists down by season. When the weather begins to change and you start to get excited about all the new stuff you’ll be able to do soon, write some of them down! This list from a couple summer’s ago hung in our playroom for months. Even if you don’t get through all the ideas, if you’re ever bored you’ll always have a place to go for inspiration!
A more dynamic way to display your goals, ideas, and wishes for the year is to create a “wish wall.” You can create this using any materials you have on hand, and you can make it as permanent or temporary as you’d like. You could put up a chalk board or dry erase board where you write down your family’s wishes. You could designate a section of a wall where you’ll put your wishes on sticky notes. You could put wishes up on your refrigerator with magnets.
Perhaps you’re less intrigued by setting goals for the year, and more interested in remembering who and where you are right now. Kids grow so quickly that, a year from now, they may seem like totally different people! Why not gather up a few items to remember them at their current age, then you can look back next year and see how much they’ve grown! You could decorate a shoe box, jar, basket, tupperware, or any other container big enough to store your “memory items.” Here are some ideas for things to include in your capsule:
- A list of your child’s current favorite things (toys, games, color, school subjects, foods, movie, song, etc)
- Some of your child’s most recent artwork
- Pictures or videos (or a note reminding you where you’ve virtually stored them)
- A piece of string cut to your child’s height
- Trace and cut out your child’s hand
- A letter from present to future you!
This is a great time of year to talk about your hopes and dreams for the coming year, whether you write them down or not. Involving your entire family can make intention-setting a fun and memorable activity!
And, as always, here are some great reads to find out more about celebrating the new year and starting your year off in the right direction.