It’s January 1, and many of us feel hope and optimism for the new year ahead. We resolve to lose weight, get organized, cook more, prepare healthier meals for the family, exercise, be more involved with our kids, deep clean the house, be more productive at work, volunteer more at school, see my parents and friends more, etc. (These are my resolutions, by the way.)
But the odds of seeing those resolutions through are slim. It’s evident every January—the gym is packed with folks, eager to begin losing weight. And by March, the exercise resolution people are gone and the gym is back to normal. Same for my resolutions. Right off the bat, I go strong and sooner or later, it fades and I’m back to the same old. So how do we make lasting changes to our lives?
Last year, I made my usual resolutions. Year after year, I made similar resolutions (like the ones listed above) and none of them stuck. I was stuck. Not happy with my job, my physical wellbeing, my day to day existence. It was a grind.
But last year was different. I took action to change something in my life.
Good things happened. I got a new job, created new and productive habits, and gained a whole new way of looking at the world. Do I still have bad habits? Sure. Do I still have multiple, unrealized goals? Of course. The point here is that taking the first step to make some kind of change has resulted in a positive domino effect in my life.
That was the first step; embracing change. As Albert Einstein once said, “insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results”. I committed to change—instead of reacting to whatever happened to me on a daily basis, I decided to take control of things I could control.
I changed my mindset. Mirriam Webster Dictionary defines mindset as "a particular way of thinking: a person's attitude or set of opinions about something".
Truthfully, I didn’t set out to intentionally change my own mindset. It was a serendipitous effect of my desire to learn how to help my kids. It began when my oldest son (at the time, he was 12) was struggling with his mental game in baseball. I read a book called “Mindset” by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck because I thought it could help him.
Turns out, the book was absolutely life-changing. It provided invaluable advice to help my son with baseball. Foolishly, I thought I could dispense advice from the book to my son and it would all be fine and dandy. But when I started off with the “mindset” talks with my kids (cue the collective groans), I realized that the words were meaningless without teeth. The teeth being actually believing what I was saying, and ensuring my behavior and communication was consistent with that.
What I mean is that giving your kid advice about the baseball mental game and then yelling at him about striking out and harping on his 0-3 batting average is not a consistent message. The message you’re trying to get across about the mental game could be negated by your actions and the way you communicate. And as a result, his game doesn’t improve, you decide these mindset woo-woo techniques are BS, and go back to the old way of doing things. So in turn, things don’t change for the better and you continue to react to situations as they arise.
So here’s the light bulb moment—sometimes we, as parents, have to change to be effective.
I realized that I had to change before I could help my son.
Do you want to be a better parent? Do you see your child selling himself short by quitting activities or tasks prematurely? Are you afraid they’ll short change themselves and as a result, they won’t reach their full potential? Can you help them overcome their limiting beliefs?
Dr. Dweck discusses two different mindsets and how changing your mindset can help you achieve personal and professional success. It can also help your kids achieve their goals in school, in sports, and in life. I’ve taken steps to implement her strategies in my own life. Although the jury is still out on how it’s impacted my kids, I can say that her book has truly changed my life. Rose colored glasses? Maybe not 100% of the time, but it certainly has changed the way I view the world. Instead of seeing the world in terms of suffering, lack, and circumstance, I now see life as full of opportunity and possibility.
Will this be your year to make meaningful changes in your life? Will this be the year that you take steps to be a better person and parent?
The takeaway here? To become better people as well and better parents to our kids, we must first want to change our mindset, believe we can change our mindset, and take action to do so.
"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
-George Bernard Shaw
Let this be your year!