As the new year has come upon us, it’s time for resolutions. Some will stick, and some will fail before January is over.
I remember in college, when the new year would begin and suddenly the campus gym was crowded for a week or two before it started to dwindle back down. Some years, I was the one crowding the gym for the first few weeks, and some years, I was the one feeling hindered by those joining the gym.
Such is life.
I mean, in reality, each day begins with you making a resolution to yourself, and each day ends with you reflecting on your day and preparing for tomorrow’s resolutions.
I think we’re too hard on ourselves. We’ve stopped complimenting ourselves for our own small accomplishments. Why is it, that when our children fall while learning to walk, we clap and shout, “Good job!” for the few steps they took, but when we, as adults, take baby steps, it is a failure? It’s not the progress we were hoping for?
When my three year old stands in front of his toddler basketball hoop and places the ball directly in, I still clap wildly, shout, “Yeah! 2 points!”, and dance around like a crazy person. But, when I have victory placed right in front of me, it’s not a celebration. It’s a question of, ‘what is going to go wrong since that was so easy’ or the underwhelming sensation that I should have had a bigger score.
As parents and spouses,
we have victories daily that should be celebrated. Some days, we clean, make meals, have great activities prepared, and don’t have to raise our voices. Some days, keeping the kids alive is the victory. Most days love somewhere in the middle. But, all days should be celebrated.
Why, then, is it so hard to celebrate these victories? Why, then, is it such a disappointment when we fail with our new year’s resolutions?
Aside from the explosion of everyone’s perfect lives right in front of us every moment of every day, thanks to social media, I believe it’s because many of us have not been taught how to fail gracefully.
What happens as children grow up? Patience runs low. We stop celebrating every little step after they begin walking and instead start getting frustrated when we’re in a rush. Instead of praising them when they ask for help, we start to tell them they need to hurry up because they know how to do whatever task they’re struggling with and now we’re going to be late.
We get frustrated when they insist on wearing pajamas or outfits that are too small or don’t match. But, we only want them to be well put together because we just saw that Sally’s family had matching outfits at their beach trip.
Once kids start to get the hang of something, we immediately begin to think they’re growing up and we start to treat them as if they are older than they really are. And, although there is a time and place for this, it’s not timed correctly anymore.
When I think back to my days of teaching, all I am reminded of is one thing: We want our young children to become independent, but we treat our older children like toddlers.
I can’t even count the number of times I had high school students tell me how much they enjoyed the fact that I treated them like adults. (Note: I’m not tooting my own horn here, I’m just telling you my experience.) They were astonished when I held them accountable. When I sat them down and talked to them about their failures, and then when I proved to them that I believed in them. They enjoyed the few teachers that showed up for them in everything they did.
But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this isn’t always the case. And, as we turn into adults, finding this support becomes even harder. By the time we’re adults, many of us rely on ourselves for confirmation within accomplishments. Many of us overlook the baby steps we’re taking and aspire for bigger accomplishments; leaving us feeling like failures when we misstep or don’t feel like we’ve made a big enough victory.
I want to tell you that, whether you stick with your resolutions or fail with them at any point in this year, I am proud of you. We’re 9 days into this year, and I’m sure you’ve already made hundreds of small victories! And, if you have a cheat day, or week, or month, you can always start over. As long as you’re out there, being alive, you’re accomplishing more than you think. You’re right where you’re supposed to be. And, if my reminder isn’t good enough for you, check in with your support system because I’m sure they’re going to tell you the same thing!