We have started out many of our parenting presentations lately by asking members of our audience to answer three questions. We thought we would try them on you this week as a lead-in to a type of New Year’s resolution we would like you to consider:
If you are reading online, please actually mark your answers for a readers poll at the left, and we will share the results and percentages with you in a later column. Please mark your answers before you read the rest of this column.
What we are finding is that most young people define and measure success and “fullness” in their lives in terms of what they are accomplishing — their grades and degrees, their positions and salaries, their awards and honors, their winning and losing.
Older seniors, on the other hand, think of satisfaction and success in terms of their relationships, particularly with children and family.
And younger people, when asked what they think their main fulfillment will be in their later years, agree that it will be about their marriages and their kids and their grandkids, and their relationships in general.
Now here is the grand irony: It is when we are young that we can do the most for our long-term relationships. It is while our children are with us in our homes that we can build durable relationships and fight through the tough times to make our marriage commitments resilient and strong. When we get older and realize that all that really matters are our relationships (and believe us, we all will get to that conclusion), it may be too late to do much about them.
So here are the message and the challenge: Think like an old guy! Think like an old gal! If you are young, shift paradigms now and understand that it will be your relationships and not your achievements by which you will one day measure your life.
Think about making a New Year’s resolution this year about how long you want to live — and go for a ripe, old age. Use the Christmas season to think about it. How many more Christmases do you want to enjoy?
This kind of a longevity resolution will give perspective to every aspect of your life, from how you eat and exercise to how you prioritize your immediate and extended family. And it will cause you to think with some of the wisdom that we usually don’t get until we are much older.
Richard and Linda are the founders of Joyschools.com and New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or at www.valuesparenting.com.