Why wait for the New Year to make your resolutions or goals?
Maybe the New Year holiday has been changed for me thanks to being in education and that I get excited for each new year that starts in school on September 1st, but I just don't see the New Year on January 1st as reason to start making resolutions for the new year. If you are a lifelong learner and committed to your profession, then you should always have a set of goals that you are constantly monitoring, reflecting upon and revising.
Each January I have to laugh at how busy the gym is for the first 2 weeks--filled with all the people that decided that this year they are going to get in shape or lose weight. Then after those 2 weeks, the traffic dies down, because it was just a New Year's Resolution hype. (Note-if you are trying to make this your New Year's Resolution, please don't be offended by my take on this. Use this New Year to reflect on why this hasn't worked for you in the past so that it will this year.)
If you google New Year's Resolutions, you will find a multitude of sites that list ways to stick to your new goals. Most of these lists include: make your goals realistic, write them down, tell people (to help hold you accountable), and reward yourself. When you go back to your google search, you will also find many sites that list the top 10 New Year's Resolutions and ideas of how to create your New Year's Resolutions. If you have to do that much work (of searching for ideas) to come up with your new goal, it is my guess that you will not be able to stick with it. You should know in your heart and in your daily life what your goal should be. You need to find ways to make the monitoring of it part of your daily life. I'm not going to tell you how, but I'll tell you how I do.
I use the app Simple Goals to keep track of my personal and professional goals. I keep my professional goals on my iPad (since this is school issued and I use it at school constantly) and my personal goals on my iPod. I'm sure that there are a variety of other great tools out there to use to track your goals, however, I love this one because it is ridiculously simple (hence the title) and it's free! In addition, I have always kept a journal where I add my reflections and notes on my goals, however, I have really done more of that here on my blog and begun using evernote to journal, because I have become almost completely unable to use pen/paper.
I have also tried to model reflecting upon goals for my staff...at the start of the year I shared my personal/professional goals with staff and gave each teacher a journal (actually I bought a variety and they each picked the one they wanted) and gave them time to write their goals for the year-both professional and personal. I have asked teachers to bring these journals to each professional learning meeting and given them a few minutes at the end of each meeting to reflect and write. At the suggestion of one of my teachers, I have also tried to add a reflection prompt to the end of each of my Friday Focus posts for them to reflect/write if they choose. I don't check teacher's journals, so I really don't know how they are being used. Just like anything, I'm assuming that those that those that utilize it get the most out of it. At our next professional learning meeting I am planning to have teachers turn back to their first goals page they wrote at the start of the year to reflect on their goals for this school year and revise as necessary.
Use the New Year Holiday as a time to enjoy time with your family and friends while reflecting on your current goals and ask yourself:
-As you look at your data or method to keep track of your progress, how well are you meeting your goals? If you have no data to look at, then you need to find a method to track your progress.
-Do any of your goals need to be revised? How so?
-What do you need to add to your goals? Remember, if you make this something totally new, you will likely not stick to it. However, if this is your time to finally decide to quit a bad habit or add a new one, make sure that you find a way for this goal to "stick" all year and not die out by January 18th.