In proactive goal setting, aimed to improve life (as opposed to reactive goal setting, which seeks to solve a problem), sometimes the most difficult part can be follow-through. It is tempting to try to make too many changes at once – to attempt a complete overhaul of your life. While admirable and well-intentioned, it can be overwhelming to try too many changes at once, especially when children are involved. Children thrive on routine, and family routines and traditions are especially important when the military throws everyone and everything out of routine.
As a rudimentary way to discover your priorities as a family, think about what you want to remember when you look back on a crazy chunk of life in ten or fifteen years. Do you want to remember that you took care of yourself mentally and physically? Do you want to remember that you had fun as a family, whether your service member was here or there? Do you want to remember that you valued faith in your family, even through crazy seasons? Or maybe that you had tons of silly family traditions that you and your children can remember fondly?
Once you’ve identified priorities in your family’s life, make a commitment to changing one small thing per week in alignment with that priority. For example, if you choose being active and outdoors as a family as a goal, make Tuesdays your family walk day. Load the kids in the stroller, or strap on tennis shoes, pack some special snacks, and head out the door. Then repeat the following Tuesday. Or if you want to spend more time together as a whole family, make Saturday nights game night at your house. Fix fun appetizers and make it a party every Saturday night.
Of course, you won’t know what will work until you try it; but if you try to develop weekly “traditions” or routines that reflect your priorities and focus as a family, you are more likely to stick with the small, but manageable, changes you start.
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Mary Duffy is from Georgia. She has been an educator for over ten years, with classroom teaching in GA, NC, CO, and FL. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in English Education. In 2018, she received her Masters in Education from the University of Kansas. Mary and her husband have two children and have been part of the Special Operations community for ten