As of this writing, I have just three days to make good on my 2016 New Year’s Resolutions.

It’s looking pretty grim for me to make good on drinking eight glasses of water a day in 2016. I’m more than 23,000 ounces shy of this goal. It will appear in my 2017 resolutions just as it has on my list every New Year’s Eve since about 1996. One day, I might just be successful at heeding the doctor’s advice when it comes to hydration.

I’m not discouraged by my failed resolutions. I think of them as a way to weave my daydreams into reality. That novel isn’t going to write itself, but I won’t be around to write it if I don’t stop eating peanut butter cups at midnight and drinking diet soda for breakfast. So, my 2017 resolutions will address both, writing more and eating healthier.

Some may view resolutions as laughable and destined-to-fail attempts at making changes. It is true; resolutions oftentimes get derailed in the chores and chaos of everyday life. But, if at no other time in the year, the New Year calls us to pause and reflect on our hopes and dreams.

A resolution is not finalized in one day; rather, it is a hundred little steps that we take throughout the year. If you don’t wake up on Jan. 1 with your resolutions already in place, it’s never too late to create them. Experts agree that when you write down and visualize your resolutions, you have an improved chance of achieving them.

Working toward goals has benefits. It gives us the joy at marveling at our accomplishments and the strength to power through the tough times. Even high achievers get discouraged. But, they don’t let the setbacks define who they are.

When you feel good about yourself, it has a positive influence on your relationships, work and school. You’ll see small successes morphing into bigger successes, and much of it comes from a renewed attitude toward achieving. The saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get” has been attributed to everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Goldwyn. Regardless of who said it, he or she was speaking a truth.

Resolutions don’t have to be limited to the boring toils of losing weight, eating more vegetables, exercising daily or quitting smoking (though, they’re all very good resolutions). They actually can be the fun things for which we never seem to have time.

You could resolve to learn German from a smart phone app during the 20 minute commute to work. Or, park the car a little farther from the grocery store entrance to get in a few more minutes of exercise. Part of succeeding with our resolutions is being creative in fitting them into our already harried days, because unless it’s a leap year, the new year doesn’t come with any extra minutes.

The sentiment of New Year’s resolutions may be lost on your children; but, you can encourage family resolutions. Ideas may include more family dinners, reducing screen time, planting a garden, enjoying evening walks or building a record-breaking snowman.

Even household chores can become resolutions: declutter the garage, turn the basement into a family game room, donate outgrown toys and clothes to charity, cook a new ethnic food each month. And, bring back the lost art of simple kindnesses: send handwritten thank you notes, write letters to faraway relatives or friends, create your own birthday or holiday cards, create art for your grandparents’ refrigerator, start a diary or journal.

Remember to praise your children’s efforts to work toward these goals. Remind them that even when goals get side-tracked, they can reset the goal and discover a new approach to achieve it. This invaluable life skill will take them far beyond New Year’s resolutions. Plus, children are born with the innate ability to remember every promise their parents have ever made, so they will hold you to your resolutions.

Pause often to take notice of where you and your family are in keeping your family resolutions. You might find that by Valentine’s Day you’ve broken some; by St. Patrick’s Day, you may have forgotten what your resolutions were. Just don’t talk yourself into giving up because it’s the Fourth of July. Pick yourself up, shake off the dust and close your ears to the naysayers.

Changing habits and adjusting priorities takes time, perhaps even a lifetime. If you make a conscious effort to improve yourself and pursue your dream, you’ll start to notice changes for the better. Commit to renew the promises you’ve made to yourself and your family, and you’ll create a very special 2017.

Pamela Henderson is the director of development and communications at Dunebrook. To learn more about parenting and support programs at Dunebrook, call (800) 897-0007. Email Pam with parenting questions and comments at pam@dunebrook.org.

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