Last week I posted about the idea of new year’s resolutions and why I’ve never made them. This year is no exception.
But that doesn’t mean I avoid reflection, I definitely don’t. I’ve been mulling over things I’d hoped to achieve this year and didn’t, as well as things I want to work on in the coming year.
All pretty typical stuff, right?
Here’s where we do it differently in our family, though. And maybe you can pick up an idea or two that might work for your family, too.
Each year, sometime in the week between Christmas and new year’s, I brief everyone about what to think about for our traditional New Year’s Eve dinner (we go to Pei Wei - a casual Asian fusion place if you’re not familiar - so nothing fancy in the least). While waiting for our food to arrive, we start our session. Our family discussion has two different parts - reflections on the past year and planning for the coming year.
We start the session with our reflections about ourselves. We go around the table and each person says three things they’re proud of themselves for accomplishing the past year. This can be anything, anything at all. Whatever seems right to each person is just perfect.
Then we move onto talking about each other’s accomplishments - each person says two things they’re proud of for each other family member.
This is my very favorite moment of the year, y’all. It really, really is! It’s just so, so, so, SO neat to hear my kids’ points of view on each other (and Doug and I too) and I just soak up how heartfelt their acknowledgements of each other are. Sometimes their responses aren’t any surprise, and that’s fine of course, but sometimes someone says something out of left field that is so genuine, so honest, so sweet that it’s hard for me not to tear up a little. I usually have to catch my breath more than once during this part of the talk.
Then we expand the discussion to each of us naming one thing that we’re proud of our family as whole for. Several people might name the same thing, and that’s fine. This is a completely judgment-free time!
Then we go around the table again and say one thing that was a pleasant surprise for each of us the past year (this part is always fun!).
We wrap up our reflection time by each saying something that we wished we accomplished the past year, but didn’t. It doesn’t mean that we necessarily want to include it as a goal for the following year, that’s not required. We just take the time to acknowledge something we personally fell short on.
Next we talk about goals! We’ve always kept it very positive (framing things in terms of goals rather then resolutions) and again, we talk about things on both a personal and family level.
Each person gives three goals that they’ve set for themselves that year, and together, we set one family goal. This usually takes some discussion back and forth and unless you’re prepared for serious negotiation, it’s best to keep it simple like “take a family hike once a month” or “have neighbors over for dinner every other month,” etc. Remember that this is New Year’s Eve - a celebration - so it’s best to keep it positive, light, and fun.
We then turn the tables for each other and offer one wish for each person in the family. Again, anything goes, as long as it’s positive.
Last, we each share our own vision word for the year - the one word that’s personally meaningful for each of us that will help guide us toward our goals that year. And together, we decide on a family vision word for the year.
Now all this seems like it takes a very long time, but really it doesn’t. To make it go more efficiently, we come prepared with brief notes to prompt our memories. And if you’re just starting this for the first time, you can definitely pare it down to bare bones - you could share something you're proud of for your self and others (I really wouldn’t skip this part!) and then one goal you have for yourself. Easy peasy!
But it is really fun to think through these things in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, and they’re fun discussions to have with each other. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the process and results. It’s a really neat way to connect with each other as you usher out one year and ring in another.
To help you along the process, I have a cheat sheet for you! You can download my form called "2015 by Design," make a copy for each person in your family and use it to write down your ideas. Or make your own personal family sheet, taking inspiration from mine. Get it here:
Just don’t pass up this great chance to connect as a family and enjoy ringing in the new year together!