Anyone who has laboured under the weight of New Year resolutions they are yet to fully achieve might be interested to know that we have apparently been making resolutions at the turn of the year for some 4,000 years! The Ancient Babylonians were partial to New Year celebrations which, for them, took place as the new crops were planted in March.
Interestingly, there is research that suggests that the best time to begin working on your New Year resolutions is around March. Perhaps the energy we get from the signs of Spring around us gives us the extra impetus needed to commit to whatever changes we need to make. Food for thought, but we are all different, and only you will know what works best when it comes to creating the year you really want to experience.
It is heartening, though, that desire to focus positively and hopefully on the coming year has been a significant part of the human experience for so long. It may be a mostly secular experience these days rather than a promise to ancient gods, but the commitment to growth, be it psychological, or emotional, or intellectual, can be immensely enriching. Fortunately, there are ways of creating goals that just might stick. These ideas might help…
Whatever it is that you want to change ion your life, you need to make a plan first and foremost. Making bold statements like, “I’m going to lose three stone” or “I’m going to get the job of my dreams” will not help unless backed up by a specific strategy for action.
- Focus on one significant goal that you have for the coming year. For example, you may want to move school, or go for a promotion in your current school. Start looking at the possibilities open to you. Get in touch with Eteach for expert advice and support in finding and securing your next role. It is better to narrow your focus on one goal than to be in pursuit of a range of goals. Psychology teaches us that this is the way to success!
- Draw up a short list of possibilities and make sure you know any important dates and deadlines that need to be met so that your goal can be reached. For example, if you are planning to change school, how much notice do you have to give your current school? Check your contract to be sure.
- Think about the possible obstacles you may face and create strategies for dealing with them. This is not to be overly negative, but rather to help ensure that you continue moving towards your goal despite any friction you meet on the way.
The most important part of making New Year resolutions is the call to action that motivates us to take the steps needed for change.
- Keep a log of action and progress. What have you done to reach your goal? What still needs to be done? What is your next step? Ensuring that you know your next step makes it more likely that you will actually take it. Too often, though, we create goals without knowing how we can reach them, step by step.
- As you work towards your goal it is important to remember that you are going through a process of change. This may take time – months or even years. But if your focus is sharp, you are more likely to get there. Most importantly, if you continue to take steps towards your goal, however small, progress will be made.
- If you think you have hit a stumbling block, you need to take action. Someone will be able to help. Find a mentor or a coach, speak to a trusted colleague, a friend, family member, counsellor… there will be someone who can unlock your next steps. Remember that.
It is worth spending a little time reflecting on why you are making resolutions. Being clear about why you have resolved to change is likely to make the how more straightforward.
- Before starting work on your goal or goals, how do you feel about the process? Any troubling thoughts getting in the way? Old habits rearing their heads? Negative assumptions about likely failure? Write it all down and park it, so that it cannot interfere in your positive action! Of course, sometimes we need some professional help dealing with these underlying feelings that might be blocking us, so if that would be appropriate for you, there is counselling available 24/7 from Teacher Support (they can also signpost further appropriate support) on 08000 562 561.
- Make a note of all your successes – every step you are taking that is edging you closer to your goals. If you ever feel despondent, look at these successes and know that you will get there!
- Notice if your goals are shifting over time. What was once crucially important may be losing its shine. That’s fine. Adjust accordingly, but do question whether that is what you really want to do or whether some well-timed support would be more appropriate.
It is always worth making New Year resolutions, however small and insignificant they may seem, or however grand and out of reach. According to researchers at YouGov, one survey found that planning to make resolutions was linked to being more optimistic about the future. As we face a new calendar year full will possibilities, that optimism can only be a good thing. Here’s to a happy New Year!
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for Eteach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world. Elizabeth has also taught on education courses in HE and presented at national and international conferences.