My 2017 Word of the Year: Hygge

For several years now, I have considered choosing a “word of the year”. A word to focus on throughout the year can at times be simpler and easier than a long list of resolutions. I started thinking about my word a couple of weeks ago.

The first word that came to mind was grace. I find that I can be easily frustrated – particularly with the shortcomings of others. This past year, I have been working on patience for others and also for myself – essentially extending grace. I hadn’t really adopted it as my “word of the year”, however. Even so, this wasn’t quite the word for which I was looking.

Hygge is Love | My 2017 Word of the Year @EvaVarga.netRecently, I’d liked a link shared on the Sons of Norway Facebook page, 20 Pictures that Explain ‘Hygge’, and a friend commented, “Gee, now I am hooked on “hygge!” I’ve known about hygge for a long time but as it happened to appear in my newsfeed simultaneously with posts about the new year, it struck me that this was my word.

Hygge is a lifestyle concept that comes from Scandinavia (specifically Norway and Denmark) and is not easily translated into English. It is about an atmosphere more than one thing in particular. The atmosphere is a combination of not just the place, but the companionship and the situation. It could be your own home, but also a cafe, a walk in nature, a casual meeting with a group of friends, or even by yourself.

Hygge has no real English translation, but essentially describes the feeling you get when you’re comfortable.

Hygge is something that happens in every season, but winter can be pictured as more hygge filled season with details like candlelight to brighten the dark evenings. In the summer, eating outside with friends is a great example of hygge. As I contemplated this word, I was very inspired to take the time to include more hygge in our life – both in homeschool and our daily routines.

Hygge is Adventure | My 2017 Word of the Year @EvaVarga.netHygge is Adventure

When the kids were younger (elementary years), we had a very relaxed approach to homeschool. We completed our lessons early and had the rest of the day to play and explore passion projects. I would typically reserve one day a week for adventures – nature study outings, field trips, and leisurely days at the lake or up the river.

No matter where you go or what you do, you can bring the hygge. It’s a state of mind.

As they got older and more involved in outside activities, our leisure time began to erode. Lessons take longer and we have less time to freely explore. Not to mention, we’ve all gotten more distracted (do I dare say, addicted?) to our devices. It’s harder to motivate the kids to get outside.

I miss our adventures. I miss spending a leisurely afternoon on the beach watching them swim and dig in the sand. In 2016, we made it a family goal to get outside more – to go camping and to hike more frequently. We aimed to complete hike 52 different hikes in the calendar year. I’ll be writing a recap and reflection of this goal next week.

Hygge is Companionship | My 2017 Word of the Year @EvaVarga.netHygge is Companionship

Spending quality time with family and friends has always been very important to me. I have very fond memories of large family gatherings for holidays and reunions – granted my mother does have six siblings so our extended family is very large. Click here for A Dozen or So Ideas for Family Time. 

When something is hygge, you say it’s hyggelig (“HOO-gah-lee”): “That was a hyggelig evening.”

We’ve moved twice in the past five years. As a result, it is easy to lose connections with friends. I often feel lonely and disconnected. While I realize that not all friendships are “life long”, I know I need to make extra effort to keep the friendships that are dear to me alive. I can also reach out more in an effort to create new friendships. As an introvert, this can be a challenge.

Hygge is Joy | My 2017 Word of the Year @EvaVarga.netHygge is Joy

I love getting outdoors. I love watching my kids smile and delight in the wonders of nature. Spending time in nature is also rejuvenating for one’s soul. In 2016, I made it a personal goal to become a certified Oregon Master Naturalist. As a mother and homeschool parent, it is important to take care of me. Achieving Master Naturalist certification was rewarding both intellectually and personally.

The concept of hygge is very nostalgic: candlelight, anti-technology, and comforting traditions are all “hyggelig.”

This coming year, I look forward to renewing our weekly practice of nature journaling. Slowing down and reflecting upon our outings will be hyggelig. As will curling up with a book more regularly.

Hygge is Motivation | My 2017 Word of the Year @EvaVarga.netHygge is Strength

One of the things that has brought me joy is strength and good health. I haven’t been consistent in my fitness these past few years. Exercise may not sound very hyggelig to most, but returning to a training program will bring comfort in knowing I am taking care of myself and in turn caring for my family.

“Hyg dig!” or “have hygge!” is a popular way to say goodbye.


❤️

How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen is already a top-seller on Amazon even though it won’t be released until January 3rd. It promises to be a fresh, informative, lighthearted, fully illustrated how-to guide to hygge. How to Hygge is a combination of recipes and helpful tips for cozy living at home. Pre-order your copy today.

❤️

Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hangman will warm you up and teach you to embrace the art of hygge, no matter where you live. This is a beautiful book of Scandinavian comfort food and the recipes are absolutely delicious. The recipes are very modern and healthy.

Unplug and Get SMART: How goal setting can help teens achieve their dreams

These days, nearly everyone seems to have a device of some sort – be it an iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Laptop, or Android. Many families – including my own – struggle to find balance between device time and other activities.

It’s no surprise that kids of all ages – adults, too – can get addicted to electronic devices. That’s because every text, every Instagram ❤️, every point scored during a video game, and every chat message on a Minecraft server creates a little hit of the feel-good chemical dopamine. This is the same rush that a drug addict gets from a hit of cocaine. The same rush you get from eating a Voodoo doughnut.Unplug & Get SMART: Goal Setting for Teens @EvaVarga.net

I know from experience. Finding a balance between devices and other areas of life is something we are struggling with in our home. I’m not going to lie. Somedays, my kids spend more time on their device than they do talking to one another.

We have attempted numerous strategies and most have failed. We are making progress, however. While we haven’t found a perfect solution, what we have discovered is that focusing on our goals – both those we share as a family and those we have for ourselves – has been a huge motivator. The process of setting goals helps to keep us focused on what is important to us as a family and to each of us as individuals.

Setting goals help us to make the best use of our day. When tackled correctly, goals force us out of our comfort zone and help us to grow more each day. Most importantly, goals put us in the driver’s seat and give us control. By setting a goal, we are taking an active role in achieving our dreams. What could be more important than that?

Unplug & Get SMART: Goal Setting for Teens @EvaVarga.net

We have been talking a lot about goal setting in our home. We have each made lists of things we want to accomplish – both short term and long term. Achieving our goals takes more than good intentions, however.

We know we have to take action and then systematically measure our progress. During our family meetings, we’ve thereby brainstormed the milestones or steps we need to take to achieve our goals. Having a clear action plan has helped us to stay focused and limit our dependency on our devices.

Getting SMART

Setting Goals with Your Teen or Pre-Teen doesn’t have to be a struggle. Begin with a family discussion on what their dreams are and where they see themselves in 5 years, in 10 years. What do they want to accomplish? Consider academic goals, athletic / health goals, as well as personal / spiritual goals.

With a few goals in mind – both short term and long term – you can then help your child create a list of milestones or steps necessary to achieve a specific goal. When you ask your children to write their goals, guide them to create SMART goals that support your own goals for the same period.

A SMART goal is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and timely. I have created a template to help guide teens through this process. With this planning tool, teens can create a plan for two different goals.

SMART Goal Setting with Teens @EvaVarga.net

Download the free SMART Goals Template here.

  • Specific: Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do.
  • Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal.
  • Achievable: Goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough so that you can achieve them.
  • Results-focused & Realistic: Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.
  • Timely: Goals should be linked to a timeframe that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the vision of the goal.

There are many other templates and apps to help guide you along the process of setting and achieving your goals. One of the tools that has really helped us in regards to staying on task is our online homeschool planner. The online system is so much more than a lesson planner. The kids have begun to use it themselves to block time for their passion projects or earning commissions.

~ ~ ~

Most importantly, we parents must set a good example ourselves. No matter how much I may desire to check my Facebook and Instagram notifications, I must resist the urge. Whatever rules I have set for my child, I must be able to follow them myself.

Setting Goals with Your Teen or Pre-teen: 5 Tips for Success

My husband is very successful in his work. He manages time well and has great working relationships with his colleagues and direct reports – evidenced by the many farewell emails, heartfelt inscription in cards, and often tearful good-byes that have been shared with him these past few weeks.

We have both heard friends exclaim, How do you do it all? How do you get so much accomplished? They are often surprised when we reply that we simply set goals and take measureable steps to achieve them.

Goals are critical. They keep you focused on what’s important to you, and allow you to make the best use of your day. When tackled correctly, they force you out of your comfort zone and help you to grow more each day than you would without them. Most importantly, goals put us in the driver’s seat and give us control. By setting a goal, you are taking an active role in driving new and better results in your life. What could be more important than that?

Setting Goals with Your Teen: Five Tips for Success @EvaVarga.netTeaching our pre-teens or teenagers to set goals effectively can be life-changing. However, as we teach goal-setting to our children, we need to make sure we’re showing them how to use goals to have the greatest possible positive impact on their lives.

Specific

The most important thing to remember is that goals are personal. We as parents have experience and should try to impart our wisdom. However, we need to provide guidance around the process of goal-setting. Try not to determine the specific content of the goals. Keep in mind these are their goals, not yours.

Everyone will have different goals. The question is what are you excited about? What do you want to do? What passions drive them? What are their areas of interest? Support their process of self-discovery and encourage them to follow their hearts.

Encourage them to also be as detailed and specific as possible. Saying “I want to be a writer.” or “I want to be a concert pianist.” is too vague and thus more likely to fail.

Answer the questions: What are you going to do? Why do you want to do it? When are you going to do it? I am really interested in ____, so my goal might look like this: ____.  I want to do this to help me ____. 

Measurable

My daughter has aspirations to write a novel. She has several notebooks with pages and pages of stories that are beginning to emerge. She has typed out numerous fan fiction spin offs and has shared them on Wattpad. Most recently, she has asked to be excused from her other lessons in the month of November so that she can participate NaNoWriMo, the annual novel writing project whereby each participant aims to write a 50,000-word rough draft in the 30 days of the month.

A key step in setting goals and achieving the desired result is to make your goal measurable. A number of pages per week or the number of words per month is a measurable goal. You will be able to hold yourself accountable and measure your progress. Remember, it is a numbers game. If you want to be a writer, for example, the best way to get better is to fill more pages.

Attainable

Setting goals can be a double-edged sword. It can drive purposeful action in our lives and allow us to achieve more over a shorter period of time. Setting goals can also be a source of anxiety. They have the potential to create a hyper-focus on future circumstances.

Relatedly, goals need to be attainable. Continuing with my daughter’s goal writing a novel, if she sets out to fill 100 pages a week, she will probably fall short of her goal (at least I would). To assure success, choose a number that you can do but will push you a little outside of your comfort zone.

Setting Goals with Your Teen: Five Tips for Success @EvaVarga.netRealistic

Life is always throwing curve-balls in an attempt to derail us from our path. We may fall short of our goal but that doesn’t mean we throw in the towel and give up. Perhaps you need to be more specific in your goal statement or quantitative measure. If 50,000 words in a month seems far too much, perhaps 25,000 or 10,000 words is more attainable?

Celebrating small milestones and accomplishments along the way can help maintain enthusiasm. Take heart and trust you will get better, just give it time. Do not judge yourself on how pretty a painting is, but attend to what you discovered, or how much richer your memories of the experience have become.

Timely

One of the goals I have had in the past that I look forward to revisiting once we get settled in our new home is to keep a nature journal. I loved documenting my discoveries alongside my children when they were younger. Somewhere along the way, we stopped journaling regularly and I really miss it.

When and how often are we going to open my journal? Every moment of my day is already filled. How can we fit in something new? These are just a couple of the questions that have been going through my head as I begin to formulate my goal.

Another key to successful goal setting is to connect routines you already have in place. For example, when we go birding or hiking, I can bring our journal materials along with me and start to journal on these expeditions. Journal entries need not take hours. We can get out our journals to catch fifteen minutes here and ten minutes there.

~ ~ ~

We all want what’s best for our kids. Teaching them to think in terms of setting and accomplishing goals will help them discover that their best source for fulfillment is within themselves. Experience with setting goals will provide the recognition that they control the outcomes in their lives. Through the process of setting goals, we can give our children the most important gift any parent can give – the ability to thrive in life without us.