Why We Should Ditch the Parenting Goals (and Set Intentions Instead)

It’s the time of year when everyone seems to be setting resolutions, about everything from fostering better fitness and nutrition to ditching habits like obsessively checking social media or sleeping with a smart phone within arm’s reach.

And while I’m a big fan of setting and reaching goals—I actually wrote a book that’s about effectively doing just that—they don’t work for everything.

Such as… parenting. As in, I’m going to be a better or more patient or more tuned-in parent this year.

Because here’s what I know about goals. Goals have to be concrete and measurable in order for them to be achieved. Which is great for some kind of goals like making X trips to the gym each week or getting Y hours of sleep each night.

But parenting? Not so much.

I mean, how do you measure patience? How can you track presence? How do you assess advocacy?

So rather than set goals in relation to my parenting, I take a different approach, and I’d like to invite you to do the same.

I set intentions.

I’m a big believer in the power of intention, a.k.a. the idea that what we think about becomes our experience.

As Dr. Srini Pillay, author of Life Unlocked explains, “The brain regions involved in ‘intention’ are very connected to those regions involved in action. As a result, firing up those brain regions involved in intention will start to fire up your action centers.”

Plus, not only do intentions prep our brain to consciously create what we want more of, they help us get clear on our deepest hopes for what we want, even when our actions might fall short because, hey, we’re human.

So my intention is to show up every single day with Asher with an open heart and curiosity

My intention is be patient with him, even when I’m feeling the stress of a hundred other things.

My intention is to make sure he feels seen and heard, every single day.

Do I always succeed in achieving my intention? Um, definitely not. I have my bad days, my short-fuse days, my I-need-a-little-personal-space days. Because again…the human thing.

But that’s okay. Truly. I just wipe the slate clean, get up the next morning, pull out my Five Minute Journal, and set my intention in writing all over again.

And some days? I even get it right.

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