Last week I gave out a small exercise to all my clients and those who expressed interest in trying a weekly challenge. I wanted to give them an exercise to get them to appreciate the small things in life and give them a more positive outlook on different aspects; activities, instances, realizations, feelings, moods, and/or experiences that may have just become second nature to them on a day to day basis. I made them fill out a simple sheet that told them to list all of their "WINS" in life - whether it be something as simple as eating their favorite meal for dinner, getting a good grade on a test or assignment, or even getting to hang out with their friends.
What do kids go through?
Too often, kids get a little down if they feel that they have not achieved any of their big goals. Whether it be the result of a test, a bad sport experience or performance, or just a personal or poor interaction with friends and family, they often may see their lives filled with more failures. In reality however, kids believe that they probably should have achieved much more than they thought. Most of my clients have a hard time celebrating their small wins. They usually tell me this is because it feels silly to celebrate an effort that doesn’t seem like an achievement. When kids make a small mistake, they almost always feel bad about it. But when they accomplish a small goal or positive experience, they almost never feel good about it.
Exercise (see above)
1. Have your child commit for a week of "listing their wins".
2. Remind them to fill it out as much as they can and provide reminders when you see them in a great mood. It may take a day or two of constant reminding to fill the sheet out - but it will be worth it! Once they get into a pattern, they will start to fill it out more regularly!
3. Make sure they do a recap of the whole day before bed to make sure they didn't miss anything!
4. Once the week is complete, go through their list with them. Have them explain why they enjoyed it so much and what it meant to them. You may recognize a few from experiences you had with them - and be surprised with some other notes they took! We all have different success - embrace them!
I guarantee by the end both of you will be smiling and laughing about some good memories. Acknowledge that there is a lot of "good" in their life everyday and - while that there will be challenges and tough times - to appreciate that they are having small successes every single day; even if their end goal did not come to full completion.
Once they get into a pattern - they won't need to write it down! It will become natural - and give them a constant sense of small accomplishments to ultimately to stay more motivated, engaged, and passionate towards their goals!
I can proudly say that the results from my clients were magnificent. Although some answers were common (meals, sleep, and hanging out with friends), a majority of answers brought out unique sides of each one of my clients and allowed them to learn more about themselves and who they truly are and what they value in life! As their life coach, I got the opportunity to learn even more about them as well!
What my clients found after such an exercise is that they probably took a lot of their little achievements for granted. When they went through them one by one with me and fully acknowledged them, they realized that these little successes really do add up (and we had a great laugh doing it!).
The Bigger Picture
Ultimately, my clients aren't celebrating because they’ve made some huge achievement. They're celebrating because each one of them are successfully changing their habits. A more importantly - reinforcing the feeling of good behavior and develop an addiction to progress. Once kids find something they are successful at or have passion for, then setting goals begin the add up!
The big, life-changing achievements will come as a result of their daily, tiny actions in the right direction. By writing your WINS down on a piece of paper, they are making it physical and giving it significant impact. By re-reading it at a later date, you get even greater value from the accomplishment.
Until next time ...!