New Year’s Day is not the only time to think about change. Every day brings a fresh start. And, of course, since my focus is parenting and family, my questions for you are, “What could be better in your family, and how will you get the ball rolling?” “When the ball drops at midnight, what do you want in play?”

Perhaps you want a family dinner a few nights a week, or more cooperation with household chores. Maybe respectful talk is a concern, or establishing boundaries. What about a ‘date night’ with your spouse or partner? How about some guilt-free time for your own projects?

Whatever your goal, take some time to consider how you plan to accomplish it and what can get in your way. While intention is great, reality often gets in the way… and nothing changes. Many people give up on change within a few weeks because they don’t have the tools to cope with obstacles that pop up along the way. Obstacles can come from others, and they can be internal, your own gremlins stopping you dead in your tracks.

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Try these strategies for making realistic and sustainable progress:

  • Be very specific about what you want to accomplish. To accomplish something you have to be very clear what it is.
  • Chunk it down into smaller, manageable steps. One of the biggest obstacles to achieving goals is trying to do too much at once.
  • Be sure that all family members know what you have in mind… and include them in the process. No one likes surprises!
  • How will it feel when you accomplish your goal? What is the benefit of all this change? Whether you know it or not, your real goal isn’t the task you accomplish. It’s how you feel — content, energized, satisfied, happy. Keeping this in mind will keep you motivated.
  • Anticipate roadblocks. Identifying obstacles and distractions beforehand can help you avoid them.
  • Don’t insist on perfection. Acknowledge and encourage real effort.
  • Evaluate your progress and make course corrections when necessary.
  • What tools do you already have? What do you know about how you and your family operate that can keep you on track?
  • Who do you need to ask for help? This is a group effort. You can’t do it by yourself.

What you want is possible, but it isn’t going to happen by itself. Planning, forethought, and going for ‘better’, not perfection, will increase your chances of success.