What do Living Your Values and New Year’s Resolutions have in common?

As the past month went by, I found myself considering the similarities between attempts to live values and attempts to meet New Year’s resolutions.  Both come from a good place, a place of desire for self growth and betterment, both the ideal version of ourselves that we would like to become or display to others.  And, both are so difficulty to live fully, despite our best intentions.  Why is it that we can so thoroughly want something, but we struggle to make it happen?

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“You will probably never meet your ideal self, even if you meet every goal”  

If you look at this from a more psychodynamic approach, one would see that our attempts to live values and meet resolutions are, in reality, overstretching our selves too much, too far, too often.  In these theories (think Freud, Jung, etc.) one has an ideal self that they are always striving towards, a persona they put out to the world.  This is our version of our best self.  it makes sense that we create our goals to help mold us into that self; our goals probably come from that self!We are not trying to set ourselves up fro failure.  We truly believe setting goals that live in the ideal self will help us become the ideal self.

But…that is not a reality.  Our real self, true self, can never fully become our ideal self.  We strive, we fail, we strive, we fail, and eventually we either stop striving or change our goal.

So, how do we moderate this?  How do we create goals that stretch ourselves just enough?  Challenging enough that we change, but not so ideal that we quit or regress?

What a fine line we each must walk to grow.  How fragile we really are.  We can want more than we can meet–setting ourselves up for failure time and again, then taking it personally when we can’t meet our own ideals.

Let me share a secret with you…you will probably never meet your ideal self, even if you meet every goal, every resolution, every hope.  As your self grows and changes, encompassing previous ideal selves, so too does your ideal self–always evolving as you do, always representing the next best version of you.

If you are on this journey of living values with us…please each time you stop to evaluate yourself, your family, and kick yourself for not meeting your goals, or not doing “good enough”, remember that your goals evolve, you evolve, and if you’re always striving to be an ideal you, you’ll never be good enough.  However, take a moment to look back a year, two, five, and see how yourself evolved!  How many ideal selves have you already absorbed into your current self?  How many additional conversations, interactions, and activities have you done with your family as a result of this journey that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

Hang in there…and ENJOY the JOURNEY and the (albeit relatively small) fruits of your labor!

November Check-In: Family B

It is amazing how fast time flies and one month passes. We finally completed our value tree!  The kids had a lot of fun creating it, and we think it turned out really pretty. I wrote in our values, and tried to keep the wording easy for little ones to understand. For example, I wrote “thankful” instead of “gratitude,” and “giving” in place of “generosity”.

At the core/base of our value tree you will find family, friends, faith, and nature. And then our first main branch shows how we value ourselves and others; these include our behaviors that show those values. In that branch you will find kindness and patience, for example.

The second main branch goes into more detail of what we value. For example financial security (we chose to write “money” so the kids can relate better) and health, which then further branches off into nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc.

The kids also wanted “the fruit of the spirit” added into our picture.

I hope you get the picture, but to help visualize what I am trying to explain we have posted our art project here 🙂

Family B value tree

We think that having our values displayed will help explain why we do certain things in our everyday life, such as speak kindly, brush our teeth, go to school/work, etc. We also hope that it will also remind us to focus on what we prioritize a little bit more–such as having fun and being generous.

It will be interesting to see if the upcoming holiday season will help us focus on our values a little more OR if we will be distracted from our priorities with all the to-do’s of this season.   (Feel free to let us know your experience as you navigate the holiday season while also trying to live your values everyday!)

More to come soon 🙂

November Check-In: Family A

This past month’s goals proved incredibly difficult to meet.

As with other families involved in this challenge, life seemed to get the best of of us this month.  While we did spend a good deal of time engaging in kith and kin related activities; unfortunately, these activities were not as purposeful as we had hoped.

We did engage in the hike the kids had requested, created a shelter in the living room, answered countless random questions, and built many a fire; we (dad especially) sought to engage in some level of structured learning experiences as well.  This is where we feel we have continued room for growth.

Because of this, we have decided to stick with this value family for another month.  The activities we are most interested in focusing on this next month include:

*Hiking (using jet boil, animal tracks, map reading, etc.)

*Educational activities (reading, puzzling, lego building, etc.)

*Engaging in supportive relationship building/growth as siblings/kind people

We will commit to planning at least one activity weekly, with the kids input, for at least one purposeful, meaningful growth activity per week.  (with the hopes of continuing to encourage kith and kin and growth throughout the week.)

We hope we can find a way to integrate the busy holiday season and our goals of living our values daily (so many ways to give during the season, but also so many ways to get lost in the materialism.)