Happy New Year!!
It’s been a long time coming and it’s finally here…2021! While we’re not out of the woods yet as far as “C-word” is concerned, we’re hopefully seeing the light at the end of the tunnel get brighter each day. That hope fills me with excitement and helps energize me when I think ahead to what this year may bring.
I’ve thought about resolutions in the past and even successfully stuck to a couple over the years. If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned through your own trial and error that sticking to resolutions is really difficult. Three tricks that I’ve learned and now use as a basis for my resolutions are: resolutions need to have an element of regularity included, they need to be things that don’t require you to fundamentally change who you are, and they shouldn’t be “all or nothing”.
Resolutions work best (at least for me) when they are essentially a repeated goal…a small, manageable, daily goal. Two of the years in which I was most successful at sticking to them, I made resolutions that fit this description. One year I committed to taking a picture and reflecting on something positive in my life each day. This took me 10-15 minutes each day. The other year I committed to 10 minutes of mindfulness each day. The short time commitment made it manageable and the regular nature of the goal forced it into my daily routine. These goals were small and manageable (in terms of time commitment) and happened every day, eventually becoming so ingrained in my routine that I didn’t have to remind myself to do them.
These two goals didn’t force me to immediately change who I was but they did, over time, lead me to grow as a person. I’ve found that if you aim for a goal that forces you to fundamentally change who you are immediately, then you will eventually lose the will power necessary to maintain your goal. For example, the ever popular New Year’s diet that I’ve committed to oh-so-many times never seems to work. Asking someone who loves food (like me!) to completely shift their eating and exercise habits on a dime can only last so long…until their will power is exhausted. These previously mentioned goals did, however, lead me to change as a person over time as the habit of focusing on the positive moments in life and practicing mindfulness regularly changed the way I viewed the world and my place in it.
I’d be lying if I told you that I completed each of those resolutions each and every day! For the daily photo, there were certainly a few days sprinkled throughout the year where I was scrambling at the end of the day or perhaps (shh!) I used a picture from a different day. When it comes to mindfulness practice, I still do that most mornings but there have been times when things pop up or the snooze alarm gets slightly abused…and that’s okay! By giving myself permission to have an “off-day” I don’t totally ruin my resolution, which allows me to jump back on track the following day without ruining the momentum.
As you think about a New Year’s Resolution for 2021 I’d encourage you to remember these three tips. Make goals regular and manageable (daily is best), don’t try changing your entire life cold-turkey, and give yourself the grace to miss your goal for a day here and there (don’t let this become a habit though). Even if you’re someone who chooses not to set a resolution as we enter 2021, think about how this can impact your work with your students or even your PPG. If you’re realistic, focus on the baby-steps, and allow for a slip-up or two, then you will have a much more realistic chance of meeting your goals and maintaining your resolution!
My resolution for 2021 is to build up to an hour each day for making myself better. I know that I can’t start at an hour right out of the gates, it’s just not going to happen. So, I’m committing to at least 15 minutes for the first two weeks and at least 30 for the next two. I’ll adjust as necessary moving forward until I’m at an hour regularly. This time is going to be for exercising, trying new recipes, reading (I’ve fallen off completely since Clayton was born), researching and doctorate work, and other activities that will help me be better mentally, physically, or otherwise.
Finally, I’ve realized that if I share my goal with people I have a much better chance of sticking to it, especially if others ask me about it and hold me accountable! So, please ask me about how my goal is going at some point…it will give me a boost when you do!!