Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, how about asking your family what they’d like to do or learn this year? Resolutions are great, but a desire to learn something new or ‘do’ or ‘make’ something special are longer-term goals which can be focussed on and put to one side at times. A ‘project for new Year’ involves more steps: research, exploring, learning new skills; a project is a journey, not just a repetitive action or establishing or breaking a habit.
A couple of years ago, my boys decided they’d like to learn how to surf, and the aim for the year was to work towards that goal. In the dark depths of winter, it involved researching surfing techniques and watching clips of the pros as well as practicing balancing and jumping up from a lying down position; all from the comfort of our home. The next step was looking for spots to practice, both locally and for a holiday. The eldest boy is fascinated by travel and countries so his internet ‘surfing’ of surfing clips progressed to looking for the locations on an atlas, and finding out the best waves and surfing spots for beginners. By this time, we were all quicker and more adept at ‘popping’ up on our imaginary surfboards at home! We decided that skateboarding and balancing on one leg were precursors to surfing, so this too became a ‘thing’. All these activities, excitement and building expertise about surfing was a family focus that waxed and waned, and then built as our summer beach holiday crept nearer. Over the Easter holidays, we booked our summer adventure and again researched the best ‘beginner’ surf spots and family friendly surfing instructors for August. Come August and the start of our holiday we were all set to learn to surf in ‘real life’! We were fortunate enough to have 5 days of lessons as a family, followed by a few more days to practise and refine our skills as well as lark about on the water, confident that we were no longer beginners. This all prepared us for Autumn surfing, and then surfing through the colder, windier months of December and January.
The bonus of having a focus for the year meant that our New Year’s resolution wasn’t dependent on day-in day-out practice, and the inevitable fading of resolve for the resolution. It was something to work towards in our own ways, and then a culmination in the summer when we took our surf lessons. But rather than the surf lessons being the start of the end result, they became a step in the longer term ‘resolution’. It meant that we had a collective family focus, even if my efforts were more as a support act and credit card holder, as well as ‘beach towel’ protector when the surf was less appealing than a few pages of a good book and five minutes’ peace! This is something that our family keep coming back to; surfing and heading to the beach is something we all enjoy. Even during the grey autumnal days of ‘restrictions’ this year, the beach was our refuge. We resolved to swim outside each month of the year, and we managed all but February, so this is continuing next year – no real hardship when the great outdoors offers freedom and space during these strange Covid times.
I wonder what your 2021’s year-long ‘resolution’ might be? Perhaps you want to learn more about the wildlife in your local area or about the night skies? Or go rock-pooling? Or learn ‘circus skills’ or magic tricks? Perhaps you want to climb a mountain, or learn to bake macaroons? What could you do today to get started? You could draw, research, find a book or ask questions of an expert (grandma, maybe, or write to a well-known person who’s brilliant at the skill you want to learn). What can you do this month toward this goal? What will be a ‘big’ event or showcase of your new skill or creation? This is all about the process rather than the outcome. What’s more, it’s not about perfecting whatever you decide to do, it’s about enjoying it, and remember, if you can’t do something well decide that you will enjoy doing it badly. That’s my philosophy when it comes to surfing, anyway…
We’d love to know what you and your family decide. Do send us an email, or leave a comment below.
About the Author:
Ruth is an experienced early years with a passion for active and outdoor play. A mum of 3 boys, she certainly knows the importance of keeping everybody active outdoors!