Earning more money. Going back to school. Starting a new career or business. Traveling, volunteering or exercising more. Regardless of your specific goals for 2022, a new year is a fine time to reevaluate priorities and reconnect with your aspirations. Although this is necessary for personal growth, sometimes we aim a little too high. Then, we inevitably lose steam and wind up in the same rut all over again. This is especially true for busy parents, whose lives revolve around raising kids.
Starting a new exercise program is already daunting enough, but when you drive your daughter to and from soccer practice four nights a week, it becomes nearly impossible. The everyday grind takes a toll on our mental health, leaving many parents running on fumes.
According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, all people have a desire for personal growth, but to achieve it, our basic needs must be met first. When we flourish as people, we flourish as parents. If our kids see us engaging in healthy, energizing activities, they’ll follow our lead.
But how do we juggle it all? Start with these three tips!
Form better habits.
Goals are one component of personal growth, but they aren’t everything. In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes: “The quality of our lives often depends on our habits. With the same habits, you’ll end up with same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.”
Forming better habits enables you to improve the areas of your life where you’re lacking. At the beginning of last year, I set a goal to exercise more and become healthier. I knew going to the gym was a struggle … but why? After some thought, I realized it was partially because I hated stumbling around to find my gym clothes early in the morning.
After reading Atomic Habits, I began laying out my gym clothes before bed every night so I could wake up and leave for the gym in 10 minutes flat! Now, I do it without even thinking about it. Why? Because it’s become a habit — and now going to the gym is part of my lifestyle.
Our small habits help us reach our big, long-term goals. Think about the specific small habits that can help you make your big 2022 goals a reality.
Once you’ve mastered a few small habits, get your kids involved. As an added bonus: When they form better habits, you’ll have less on your plate at home!
Focus on your strengths.
Many of us believe obsessing over our weaknesses will help us grow, but that’s a myth. We can only become average (at best) in our deficient areas. To actually improve your well-being, pay more attention to your strengths. That in turn will improve your self-esteem and build confidence — and your kids will follow in your footsteps.
As a social worker, I helped clients recover from mental health crises by identifying their strengths. Over the years, it became clear that when people understand their strengths, they can flourish in all areas of their lives.
If you’re unsure of your strengths, take an online assessment. The VIA 24 Character Strengths Assessment helps you tap into your innate values, priorities and strengths.
To learn more about your unique skillset, try the Gallup StrengthsFinder. You’ll discover your areas of greatest potential so you can achieve your goals and perform your best at work.
These two assessments complement each other and provide a strong foundation for enhancing your overall well-being.
Build your resilience muscle.
Every new year brings new difficulties and challenges. Your level of resilience determines how quickly you’ll bounce back from them. Positive psychologist Chris Peterson characterizes resilience as “struggling well,” whether in response to small stressors or major trauma.
Your ability to move forward directly impacts your well-being. Research shows that resilience also improves problem-solving and moves people closer to achieving their goals — and the more you practice it, the more resilient you become.
How do you increase your resilience? There are many approaches, including therapy, journaling, meditation, yoga, practicing self-compassion, getting support from loved ones, getting adequate exercise and sleep and paying attention to your nutrition, to name a few. Start with one or two resilience-building habits and build from there.
When you face adversity with resilience, you’ll discover just how strong you truly are — and you’ll feel more confident and capable in the future. Additionally, resilience is contagious. Resilient parents raise resilient kids.
Ready to boost your well-being? Take it one tip at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed. Then move on to the next one. This practice may add one more thing to your full to-do list, but it will also leave you more energized for everything else on your plate — and help you flourish as both a parent and person.