Thursday, January 20, 2011
New Goals for the New Year
On Monday evening we sat down as a family to talk about goals with our girls. After explaining the rough concept of New Year's Resolutions, my seven year old nodded vigorously and said, "Okay, I get it. And I have a goal for you, Mom. I think you could try harder to be a nicer mom, and to not be impatient and get mad at us."
That wasn't quite what I had in mind.
But she did hit the nail on the head. One of my central goals this year is to be more patient. In fact, I think one of my goals every year is to be more patient. As my seven year old will tell you, it's not one of my qualities. So is it ridiculous to try again at the same thing, year after year?
I asked one of my sisters if she had any New Year's resolutions and she laughed and said, "Yeah, pretty much all the same ones I had last year!" Her flip answer gave me pause. By a raise of hands, how many of you have roughly the same resolutions every year? I know I do. But I don't think repetition should diminish the importance of setting and striving to improve ourselves.
I remember when I was in high school my step-mom's Uncle Grant came to visit our family at our home in London. We hosted a constant stream of tourist traffic back in those days, but Uncle Grant holds the distinction as being one of the only grown-up visitors who really took the time to talk with me, and get to know me. I remember him saying, "You know, there's lots of good qualities to have, but the secret to life is persistence. Keep working at it, and that's how you'll find success." At first I thought, "that was kind of random and weird coming from an old guy who barely knows me." But his words stayed with me, and deep down I felt both flattered and humbled that he would take the time to share that advice. And I do believe it has mattered to my life.
I love this quote by former US President Calvin Coolidge whose lifespan stretched between post-Civil War Reconstruction to the Great Depression. This guy knew something about trying again:
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common that unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
So we huddled around our kitchen table Monday evening and took turns writing family goals onto a sheet of paper, which we then taped to our backdoor. I love seeing it there every time I leave the house. I love looking at the painstaking handwriting of my little girls, who were so serious about the task of writing out our family goals. And I love the very idea that right there, in plain sight, is our little family's commitment to try and try again.