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2020: Make Better Habits, not Resolutions


2020 is upon us, which means people are considering their resolutions for this year. Maybe the dawning of the decade will finally push us to lose the weight, work out more, save money, or a plethora of lofty goals. For educators, these goals might look like revamping curriculum, changing an entire classroom management system, or philosophically adjusting approaches towards teaching.

Yet, year after year these resolutions are broken, forgotten, and tossed aside. We know our resolutions are developed from the premise of something meaningful to us, so how could we allow ourselves to do this, especially for such meaningful goals we set for ourselves?

The answer to this widely varies. Most often our goals are too lofty -- goals that are set at a massively high standard over an extended amount of time (ex: in 6 months I am going to lose 50 pounds). This becomes an issue when we first start out motivated by this goal on Jan 2. by going to the gym, working out hard, and then Jan. 3 we don't see any results, beginning our decline in motivation. Months later, we beat ourselves up for the resolution we haven't achieved yet -- for some of us, we've even forgotten what our resolution was in the first place.

We also design these resolutions with just the end result in mind, leaving out the specific steps towards getting there. If I am wanting to change my system of classroom management, I better have quality resources and a roadmap of steps towards that actual system.

The issue I, and plenty of others, also get caught up with most is failing to truly love the process of change. Working out every single day is not easy. Overhauling your diet and health is not easy. Trying teaching strategies that make you uncomfortable is not easy. The quicker we accept the fact that change is never easy, the sooner we can begin to fall in love with the process itself. We can learn to enjoy the struggle of change, become excited to try new things, and even embrace failure as a "positive" outcome in our conquest of growth.

These barriers to successfully achieving our resolutions stem from one thing: habits.

The way we live our lives is a culmination of our habits. Whether its simple tasks, daily routines, words we use, or mental states we get into, these all come from our habits. Resolutions are so hard to achieve because these habits are engrained as a part of our lives and who we are. So rather than setting a lofty and unattainable resolution for yourself in 2020, I want you to hone in on your habits.

Honing in on your Habits

1. Identify the area you want to improve in. Pick an area that you feel will have a large impact immediately in your life that you also feel will have clear and tangible steps for you to follow.

-My example: I really want to improve in the area of presence and being completely and totally present with others.

2. Clearly visualize the desired outcome. Without a clear outcome in mind, you will not be able to develop the roadmap for yourself. Try and make this outcome as realistic as possible.

-By being present with others, I will feel deeper connections, have better relationships with others, and feel a stronger sense of gratitude for those in my life.

3. Ask yourself "What would it take for me to get there?" By asking yourself this question, the mind can begin brainstorming steps to get there, resources you might need, and potential barriers to overcome.

-Being more present would require the prioritization of relationships and people, meaning intentional time spent with those people. It may also require me to clearly identify the people that I desire to be present with, as well as have those people hold me accountable to the level of presence expected (meaning truly being with people, not distracted by technology or other outside distractions).

4. Select the simplest step and DO IT IMMEDIATELY. Too often we become ultra-motivated at the beginning of our goals, thinking and worrying about every little detail forever and ever, which causes us to never actually take action. Picking a simple step and doing it immediately (sending an e-mail, reaching out to someone, writing it down) helps get the ball rolling, giving us something to build off of right from the start.

-I have written down my goal of becoming present with others and have sent a text to a close friend who will help act as my accountability partner, checking in with me on my progress.

5. Take action and fall in love with the process. Realize that your habits may not change immediately. You might try something new over and over without the expected outcome, but you must realize that is part of the process and is okay. The more you learn to love the process, the trials, the failures, the more likely you will change your habits for the better.

-I realize upfront it will take lots of mental & emotional energy, in addition to a regular day's workload, but that the benefits of being more present will ultimately reduce stress and burnout. I also know that it might make me uncomfortable, especially being more deeply present with those that I haven't been before, but the prospect of deepening relationships with others is exciting and a completely worthwhile venture that squanders any level of uncomfortability.

This is my call to action for you to start 2020 off right: make better habits, not resolutions. I wish you all nothing but success, happiness, and fulfillment this new decade - have a Happy New Year!

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