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Make your best parenting year yet

Happy New Year! As the clock ticked down the old year and we all awaited the arrival of a brand new 2008, I begun to wonder what all the people around me truly wished for deep down in that very quiet place where dreams, hopes and wishes really live. You know the place where we don't always reveal our true desires to others in case we sound silly, foolish or vulnerable. But if we want to be a co-creator of our own universe and family life we must make plans with a purpose in order to manifest the destiny that that we foresee for ourselves and let go of our fear of sounding silly.

I call it "creating dreams. with a date" and since writing down my dreams and visualising them every day I can't believe how extraordinary things keep happening to me. Having watched "The Secret" DVD a couple of years ago and having just read Napoleon Hill's amazing book "Think and Grow Rich" I can't believe the people I meet, the adventures I have and the relationships and people that I'm so grateful for having in my life since I started to use the power of visualisation. Some people say that we cannot control the future, but failing to plan is planning to fail. If you have a wait and see attitude, then whatever happens simply happens and sometimes you can feel like life is controlling you and you are a victim to fate.

When you write down some goals that you'd like to achieve you feel far more in control of your life and you feel far less stressed and far more energised. Like everyone else, I like to plan things that I'd like to achieve or see happen for the new year, but I also know that unless I put determined, concentrated effort behind my goals they will never materialise. You have to distinguish between a wish, a dream, a hope and a desire. Napoleon Hill even goes so far as to say you must make your dreams burning desires which adds passion and real enthusiasm to your hopes. It's the difference between just talking about something you'd like to happen and really making it happen.

So why not look at the sort of family relationships you'd really love to have with each of your children in 2008 or look at the sort of parent you'd like to be described as when your kids are all grown up and are telling their kids about you. What sort of memories are you creating for them through your discipline, enthusiasm and time spent really chatting and playing with them? Go and grab a cup of coffee and a pen and take a few moments to daydream and make some plans. The year is divided into 12 months, so why not assign yourself 12 goals for the new year? So start by asking yourself: * What do I most want to change in 2008 in my family relationships? What would be different in my family life if these problems, niggles or worries were gone permanently? * What will happen if I don't sort them out once and for all? * What small thing could I do today to start the process off? If you want to, you can even rank the goals highest to lowest with one being your number one goal for the year. Once you have written this list, look at it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Keep it somewhere handy or pop it up somewhere where you can see it easily. Just read your goals to yourself slowly and deliberately and start to relax and imagine them happening in great detail.

See what you see, hear what you hear and feel how great you feel as you start to see these things happening for real in your life. Be really detailed as much as possible in your pictures and make them really bright and colourful. Let the list of goals go into your unconscious mind through the repetition of reading them a couple of times each day ( I often say just before you brush your teeth as it's something you naturally do regularly every day so you can easily remember to do it!and quickly your goals just turn into habits. This is genuinely the key to success as your unconscious mind starts to explore ways to make these things happen for you -it just starts to deliver a plan that will be the turnkey in achieving your goals. Loads of people make New Year's Resolutions to lose weight, give up smoking or take more exercise but I agree with Paul McKenna when he says that visualisation is far much more powerful than willpower. So if you want your relationship to improve with your stroppy teenager or your unpredictable toddler just relax and keep visualising how you'd like it to be in a perfect world in lots of detail - see yourself relaxed and hear the sorts of things you say and do in this perfect scenario.

This inspires you and keeps you really motivated and enthusiastic and is far more powerful than just "wishing for" things to improve. But as I also learnt on Tony Robbins "Unleash the Power Within" Firewalking weekend you also have to take massive immediate ACTION. Don't just be like one of the people down the pub talking a good game .and blaming someone else. go and actually DO SOMETHING about making it happen. Change your tone of voice, appear more assertive and perhaps more confident, listen more and talk less, read a parenting book on communicating with teenagers - whatever it takes to make a small change that can make a huge difference.

Don't just wish - be really specific - daydream and imagine how you'd like it to be - take a small step of ACTION and believe - then you will truly see the changes that you genuinely want to see. I want you to pat yourself on the back and take a few moments to reflect on the achievements and challenges you experienced last year and to really celebrate all the things you did really well - as parents we forget to celebrate and praise ourselves for doing a great job often under difficult circumstances. Then just relax and come up with some new and different positive ways to further your goals and ambitions in the New Year ahead. Remember, this year is just starting and you have a whole world of possibilities available to you. Don't beat yourself up about last year's mistakes - just learn from them and get excited about the things you can do this year. I hope you make this your most positive, harmonious and fun -filled New Year ever! Keep learning, laughing and enjoying the adventure together in 2008.

Sue Atkins is a former Deputy Head with 22 years teaching experience and is an NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer. She has written many books on self esteem, toddlers and teenagers and has a collection of Confident Parent CD's available from her website. She is also the author of "Raising Happy Children for Dummies" one in the black and yellow series published worldwide and available from all good bookshops. For more information go to =>

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