My goal for 2017 was to invest in my relationships with family, friends and community to bring joy and connection. The goals I had set for the previous years had been more inward focused as I put time and energy into slowing things down and setting up core foundations to allow me to be more present in daily life.
While I did certainly succeed in investing more time and energy into family, friends and community, it didn’t bring the level of joy and connection that I had thought it would. I don’t reflect back on 2017 and feel the same level of contentment that I did for 2016. The key reason this occurred was due to habits that I chose to support my goal and the way I ended up establishing them.
One habit I worked on was volunteering at the kids’ schools (we currently have kids at three different schools). A couple of the roles I took on ended up requiring much more work than I anticipated. This meant that as I reached the half way mark of the year, to ensure I had enough time for family and friends, I had to scrap another habit I had chosen to establish – three hours of volunteering a month in a broader community group.
I learnt a lot about what types of involvement with the kids schools worked better in terms of bringing connection and joy – roles where I had more interaction with other parents and where the work I was doing was offline brought much more joy and connection. A couple of the roles I took on were more admin type roles and it meant much of the work I did just had me in front of the computer, so it really just felt like another form of work. The work I did was useful and needed to be done, but it wasn’t the right match in terms of what I was looking to get out of volunteering at the schools. Next year I will continue to volunteer at the schools, but in roles where I am more involved with the students and other parents.
I always receive great joy from spending time with my family and this year there has been many highlights for me:
- Running more with my husband
- Trip away with my husband to China to run the Great Wall Marathon
- Regular dinners out with the kids
- Walks to school with the younger kids
- Late night party pick ups with the older kids and chats in the car on the way home
- My family visiting and staying with us
- Family bike rides
- Card games and board games on the weekends
- Christmas in Mildura with my family
Looking back over 2017 though, I don’t feel that I spent enough time with my broader family – my sisters that live in Melbourne and my husband’s family that also live in Melbourne. In analysing why this was the case, I feel that it happened because I was putting too much time and energy into school commitments. Instead of making time on weekends or evenings to catch up with family, I found I just wanted some time on my own to recharge. This is something that I will work on in 2018.
I did however spend more time with friends this year including a weekend away which made me super happy and getting together a small group of friends to help me as an advisory group. I also found that I prefer active catch ups like going for a walk / run / doing an activity compared to a standard catch up at a cafe.
I went and looked through my 5 minute journal before I wrote this review and when I skimmed through the year looking for themes about what I was grateful for through out the year, after my family, being grateful for my friends was the next most common entry. Even small amounts of time with friends does bring me great joy and I do feel very grateful for the wonderful friends I have.
Learning from 2017
Even when years don’t go quite as I would have liked like this year, I am never disheartened with the goal setting process. I love the learnings I am able to take from the process each year. Key learnings from 2017 are:
- As cliched as it might sound, it is the small moments with my husband and kids that I love the most – it is the walks to school, the runs together, the chats around the dinner table etc that make me content and happy .
- Volunteering roles I take on need to be more offline and less like the work I do. My work is quite solitary so volunteering roles need to be more in person.
- I have a wonderful and supportive broader family that I need to spend more time with.
- Friends bring me great joy – even small amounts of time with dear friends uplift my mood.
- To be the calm parent I want to be, I need adequate down time.
What did you learn from 2017?
|Habit||Connection to goal||December Review|
|To make three phone calls a week to family and friends||I am terrible at making phone calls. For friends and family that are not near me, this is a great way to stay connected and I have to change my attitude towards making calls.|
The best way to change my attitude is to act, so I am going to set a target of three phone calls to make each week.
I also think there will be a natural flow on effect from making phone calls to seeing people in person more too.
|I didn't make as many phone calls this month, but due to the nature of the festive season, I saw much more of people in person instead!|
|To be an active participant in a parent body at each of the three schools||Over the last couple of years, my focus has been more inward and I haven't been as heavily involved in the kids' schools as I used to be. |
This has left me feeling less connected, so by stepping up my involvement I hope to increase my feeling of connection.
|Our primary school has a number of lovely traditions. One of which is that the parents of year 5 students organise the graduation evening for the year 6 students and their families.
There was a small group of us who worked together to create invites, make decorations, co-ordinate food and drink etc.
The evening came together beautifully and it was a real joy to work with these lovely mums.
|To organise family or friend catch ups twice a month||I always feel better after catching up with family and friends, but unless I put it top of mind, it is something that can not happen.||We had a number of catch ups at our home in December which I loved and many more catch ups outside of the home too. It was a very social month!|
|To do one activity at home or out each weekend with the kids||As the first two kids have grown up, I realise I haven't been doing as many group things with the kids as I did when the older ones were younger. It doesn't need to be fancy or long, but spending time with the kids like this brings me great joy.|
While ideally I would love all five kids to be involved in this weekly activity, the reality is that the lives of the two older boys and the ages they are mean this won't happen very often. I will however still encourage it and make sure the younger kids and I do something together.
|This now feels like a habit for both me and the kids. I often start thinking about what we are going to do earlier in the week and the kids will often make suggestions to me as well,|