Wrap Resolutions in Positive Packaging

December may be the traditional gift-giving month for many cultures and religions, but January also is an optimum time to give a gift or two — to yourself. After a couple of years going resolution-free, I have decided to kick off 2012 with some adjustments. I’m starting small, to increase my chances of success, and wrapping these goals in creative packaging as gifts to myself.

The positive positioning is important. I don’t want my resolutions to become nagging to-dos, but rather look at them as ways I am being good to myself. After all, these changes are for the better — and something I want to strive for.

Like many people this time of year, some of my goals are health-related. I’ve been sliding downhill in a few areas and need to lace up my shoes and start climbing back up. Literally. It took the holidays to realize how negligent I’d been when I couldn’t zip up the black pants I planned to wear one night. They don’t go in the dryer, so no way to wriggle out of the truth.

But it’s not really about those black pants. It’s about my health — physical and mental. I need to revamp my habits and tendencies in a few areas, and the beginning of the year is a good time to start.

My goals are personal. (Although if another person in my family took up the cause with me, that would be welcome, too!) But what if you’d like to explore some new directions for your whole family? Turns out the initial approach makes a big difference. As with my gifts to myself, positioning and attitude are key. Find out how to set family goals that are fun and do-able to improve your chances of ringing in the next year as a closer, healthier family (page 28).

Inside this issue you will also find many more tips to improve your family’s overall wellness and strength. Learn how to get more — and better quality — sleep to help you approach each day at your best (page 32). Take action to get on firmer financial footing in 2012 with six steps for all families (page 25). Go behind the closed doors of family counseling to learn how talking to a professional can help family members weather common ups and downs (page 30). (Also check out our new relationship columnist online, who addresses how to keep your relationship with your spouse strong when kids are in the mix.) We also help tackle some tough topics this month: talking about racial differences — how we are all alike and different — and arming kids against sexual abuse.

Sure, we can set goals any time, but the start of a new year often inspires us to take stock and face some areas where we’d like to make improvements. Instead of returning to our usual daily patterns after the holidays, inject some new possibilities. Give yourself a gift. Decide to do something good for yourself. Find a common goal for your family to work toward. These are the gifts you will enjoy all year.

Written by Crickett Gibbons, Carolina Parent Editor