Dear Grandparenting: Thought you might enjoy what I’ve gotten myself into with my grandchildren. One thing led to another over Thanksgiving in a good-natured way and I wound up in a contest with two teenage grandchildren. We made bets about who could keep a New Year’s resolution for a whole year.
There is method to my madness. Some kids need to build up their confidence that they can set goals and achieve. I’ll give my grandchildren something easy for their resolution and maybe they’ll hit it out of the park. I’m expecting my grandchildren will put me to the test with something like losing weight.
The three of us will get together after Christmas to finalize everything. Then this old guy will turn on his willpower, keep his resolution and set a good example. Got any of that good old last-minute advice? Tom Anderson, Everett, Washington
Dear Tom: Here we go again with the onset of another national orgy of resolution making and resolution breaking. It’s the American way. Most of us have resolved to change this or that come Jan. 1, and most have come up short. February typically finds us backsliding.
Willpower is nice, but recent research likens that quality to a muscle that gets tired from overuse. Changing the power of habit requires a mental overhaul. In simple terms, habits are connections of brain neurons that work together to benefit us over time. The more we execute certain behaviors, the stronger the neural connections become. Resisting repeated temptations, say researchers, takes its toll.
Others set themselves up to fail by making resolutions involving goals or tasks they’ve been unable to accomplish over the past year, or longer. But the greater problem is a phenomenon psychologists call “affective forecasting,” or predicting how we’ll feel about doing something in the future. We make resolutions because it makes us feel good right now and assume we’ll be equally gung-ho come Jan. 1, and every day thereafter. Guess what?
Avoid setting goals that are too big, too broad or too many. Stick with one to start. Resolving to “lose weight” is too broad. Instead, resolve to lose several pounds by a certain date. We like the SMART method — setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant (personally meaningful) and time-based. By sharing resolutions with others, you generate a network of social supporters and interested parties to help keep you honest. Good luck!
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Ronnie Moore, of The Villages, Florida, sent along a note to Santa that his grandson asked him to write in preparation for Christmas Eve:
“Dear Mr. Santa Claus: I know I was a bad boy this year, but promise you will see a much better me next year — so will it be okay if you still come and visit me with presents?
“Don’t mind if Jack our dog barks! He doesn’t mean to be bad. Making a bark is just what some dogs like to do. So please leave the presents anyway. If you are very, very scared then could you just leave the presents outside?”