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The Game of Threes

An Alternative To New Year’s Resolutions


It’s no secret that people are generally unsuccessful in keeping up with New Year’s resolutions. Why is that? And how can we turn something that seems doomed for failure into something fun and enjoyable, and hence, more likely to be followed through on?

By all means, we should strive to live our best possible lives. The failure of New Year’s resolutions often results from how we frame them and what we tend to focus upon. When we are given the clean slate of a New Year after the copious consumption of the holidays, we tend focus on things that we want to change or improve. Too often, we focus on what we think is “wrong” and want to fix, something that we want to stop doing, or something we think we need to be better at. Because of this, most resolutions actually sound fairly negative (“lose weight,” “stop smoking,” or “get out of debt”).

Simply reframing a resolution can help. For example, if we want to lose weight in the coming year, we can reframe our resolution to focus on the positive notion of being healthier, and come up with three new habits (i.e. drink more water, eat more vegetables, and take the dog on longer walks) that will help us get there. Focusing our efforts on incorporating those habits into our regular routines rather than beating ourselves up over not achieving strict numbers goals can promote better long-term results.

Once those habits have been comfortably incorporated, we can move on to implementing three new habits. One slip-up is less likely to make us feel guilty and give up altogether, and the habits build over time to create the slow, gradual, long-term behavioral change necessary for lasting results.

This same positive framing is crucial to promoting fun, fulfillment, and healthy habits with teenage girls. So many teenage girls are overwhelmed and stressed out, and many lack simple healthy coping strategies to help them unwind, de-stress, and relax. Many girls are great at coming up with goals, but the goals often mirror what they think they should be doing or what they think others would want them to be rather than what they would enjoy doing.

I came up with the Game of Threes as a way to get girls to start thinking about taking healthy risks, trying new things, and spending time on things they enjoy doing.

"The Game of Threes" is simple – and it’s something that everyone in the family can easily get involved in:

1. Have your daughter make three lists: one list of things she likes to do, one list of new things she would like to try, and one list of things she would like more time to do.

2. From these three lists, pick three things that can be done at least three times in the first three months of 2013 (a crazy tongue twister, I know, but it works!). Encourage your daughter to think about why she wants to pick these activities and what she hopes to gain by doing them.

Here’s an example:

Name: Justine

Age: 18

City: Portland

Three things I am going to make time for in 2013: ice-skating, baking, writing.

Why these things are important to you (optional): I used to love ice-skating, and I really want to get back on the ice! I also want to learn how to bake and take more time to write, because I love writing articles and I really want to either do that more or start a blog.

3. Have weekly check-ins or create a way to track personal progress. An easy reflection is to look back and think about what went well, what could be done differently, and how the Game of Threes will be incorporated into the upcoming week. Even a fifteen minute weekly check-in can make a big difference, and as a family affair, it is a great way to get everyone moving towards having a bit more fun in their lives.

If you and your family play the Game of Threes, let me know! Share your “Game of Threes” and I might feature you as our “Person of the Day” on the Facebook pages for The Myth of the Perfect Girl. Send us a photo and your name, age, and city, as well as your “Game of Threes,” to

Game of Threes Worksheet

An easy worksheet to help implement the Game of Threes


About the Author

Ana Homayoun

Ana Homayoun is the author of The Myth of the Perfect Girl: Helping Our Daughters Find Success and Happiness in School and Life.