It’s easy to believe that the answer to starting the year off right is to focus on results, especially in our new culture of Perfection.
In fact, moms are taught to believe you have to speed up, do more and jam more into your already packed days. But the answer to combatting that pressure to go, go, go is to do the opposite–SLOW DOWN!
Why Slow Down?
When I started my business working with kids and teens, I saw them struggle to build better habits because they tried to do everything faster, all at once, or perfectly on the first try. The end result was always paralysis and then defeat.
Why aren’t we built to be able to take on more?
Professors Paul A. Kirschner and Aryn Karpinski articulate that when you think you are multi-tasking, you are instead “switching quickly from one activity to another.” Humans can only do things simultaneously that are “automated.” You can walk and chew gum. But you cannot text and do homework at the same time.
You might be thinking “How on earth do I slow down?”
People tend to focus on goals that seem unattainable. This is why diets fail. When the goal seems outside of ourselves, it feels further away. The answer to reaching the goal lies in feeling what your life would be like if you were already there!
Building a Success Mindset
When your kids are doing well, it feels relaxed, joyful, and focused. If you sat and imagined it, it would feel like you had the happiest child on earth. But how do you cultivate that peace of mind daily?
You might even be thinking, “I have a child who has serious difficulties, what on earth is this woman talking about?” My team and I have taken some of the most difficult and distressed students and turned them around by slowing down:
- Cultivate an Image
Write out your goals and sit quietly to feel what it would be like to already embody that person right here and right now. Visualizing is absolutely powerful. But telling your brain that you are already there is the next level!
Sit down with your child at the beginning of each semester to identify goals. Then have them visualize what it would feel like to already reach them!
Rinse and repeat this exercise weekly or daily.
- Plan the Week Out
Write out your child’s school calendar and schedule of assignments each week. When you have a child that is struggling with feeling overwhelmed or disorganized, this tool is a game changer. There are no surprise quizzes to make them stressed in class. There is no confusion at the end of the day, hectically finishing projects they forgot about.
They may need help with this at first. I suggest modeling this out. Or if you struggle with disorganization yourself, bring in a neutral third party–teacher, tutor or coach.
- Focus on one task or project at a time
If you have a child that struggles with inattention or gets antsy when faced with assignments, slowing down will feel awkward or frustrating.
What we have seen is that when your child slows down to create quality work, they inevitably pick up speed as they master what they are doing! We call this “the slow down to speed up method.” You master the habit and it becomes part of you.
You may or may not have heard about the groundbreaking book “Growth Mindset” by Carol Dweck. Dweck is a Stanford professor that found when we focus on the process of growth rather than on results or grade outcomes, we get to where we want to go! Often, I have found that when kids realize that life is more like an experiment, where they can make mistakes and fall, they get more and more relaxed! The more relaxed they are, the more easily they learn and actually embody that child that was on their goal setting sheet to begin with!
Candice Lapin is the author of Parenting in the Age of Perfection: A Modern Guide to Nurturing a Success Mindset now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She also runs The Ladder Method, a meta-learning and academic tutoring company in Orange County, Los Angeles and New York.
(Kirschner, Paul A., et al. “Facebook® and academic performance.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 26, no. 6, 2010, pp at 1237-1245).