Hey, dad, for our third resolution, we suggest that you focus on yourself. You might say, "Wait a minute ... that sounds a little selfish. You guys are always saying, 'Be there for the kids' and 'Pay attention to your kids' needs.' Now you're saying, 'Focus on yourself.' What gives?"
We don't mean that you should be self-centered. We mean simply that in order to give freely and generously to your children and spouse, you need to take care of yourself.
Adjust the stress level
A weak vessel holds little. Increase your capacity to be a good husband and an effective father by fortifying your mind and body. Take time to de-stress. If you're constantly under pressure, impatient or agitated, you're not going to be a very good listener. Your ability to be in the moment will not be very strong. You will be quick to react in the wrong way, and your relationships will suffer.
Exercising will help you to slow down, gain perspective and be a more responsive person. Physical activity improves your heart rate, blood pressure and ability to handle challenges. Check first with your doctor before you start an exercise regimen. Once you know your limitations, reach them!
We have found exercise to be a key ingredient in keeping us effective. The biggest challenge to overcome is our own list of excuses. (We're not sure which one of us has the longer list.)
... And mental
Try some mental calisthenics. Make time for yoga, meditation, daily prayer or personal reflection. A de-stressing process such as this is important in reducing tension and increasing your ability to listen, to interact and to be more centered.
Eat To Live (not the other way around)
The body needs fuel. You are what you eat. All food is not created equal. Make sure your diet is supporting your ability to deal with the challenges you face. The better the food you eat, the better your capacity for meeting all the needs of an active day.
Treat yourself to some TLC. You may think you're indestructible, able to leap tall sofas in a single bound. Have a frank talk with yourself, dad. You're not the warrior you might think. You may not get nearly the miles per gallon of gusto that you once did. You need to stop and take the time to take the time. Do it for yourself. Do it for those you love. Do it for life.
Looking ahead, we recommend that you increase your value. Focus on the three resolutions that we have suggested in this series. 1. Step up to the plate and be a dad. 2. Improve your relationship with your spouse. 3. Focus on yourself. You'll enhance your focus on everything and everyone else in your life. It's worth the investment, and we know you can do it. And let us know how it's going.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.