Starting the Year Strong!

Maddie Scharnitzke
SGS Learning Specialist, Maddie Scharnitzke, offers invaluable insights into setting New Year's resolutions. She emphasizes the significance of establishing realistic intentions and highlights the importance of parental mindfulness towards their own goals. 
Happy New Year and welcome to 2024! With the new year inevitably comes resolutions, “new year, new me” mentality, and a focus on deficits. However, there is a reason that an estimated 80% of people lose their resolve on resolutions by mid-February (at least according to U.S. News and World Report). With these failed intentions, common themes tend to be thinking too big, working within a fixed mindset, setting goals that are too strenuous, and focusing on removing things from your life. This can be incredibly harmful, especially for adolescents, and establish a pattern of restriction. Especially when much of our adult focus can lean towards “slimming down”, “exercising more”, and other resolutions, adolescents can quickly internalize the messages that they are not enough and need to restrict habits, such as eating. However, a more effective alternative, with a focus on growth mindset, is to think about and implement habits and routines to add to the day. 

Participating in this experience of setting intentions as a family may be helpful. Here are some practices to guide your conversations:

  1. Begin with gratitude. 

Think about all the good things that happened for the year. Where were your wins and happiest memories? These don’t have to be huge things. They could be finding a favorite book, reading a book series, or finding a new favorite meal. Write it down so you can see how many things there are on the list.

  1. Think of what you have to look forward to.
Are there big plans for this next year, such as vacations, family visiting milestone birthdays? Or maybe there are things to look forward to of a different variety such as a favorite author publishing the next book in the series or a favorite artist releasing a new album. Things big and small are all worth celebrating and can be documented. 

  1. Create a visualization of your goals. 

Visualization is an important way to help accomplish goals, because it keeps them at the forefront of our minds. Creating vision boards and trackers for daily habits are two ways to accomplish this visualization. Websites such as allows you to put images together digitally to make a vision board. However, you can always cut out hard copy pictures the old-fashioned way!

  1. Make moments for intentional check-ins. 

Humans are social beings and therefore, we crave connections with others. We also seek a sense of predictability. If your child (or you!) has set a goal that they are working toward daily or weekly, make a designated time every day or week to check in about the goal. Approach with love and curiosity, and allow them to share as much or as little as they would like. 

  1. Celebrate the wins. 

Sometimes certain things are easier to accomplish than others. Agreeing ahead of time on rewards for accomplishing tasks, and following through on those effectively can help make more successes occur. These celebrations don’t need to be extravagant or cost money, but they should focus on the growth that has occurred. 
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.