January 1: Let’s Celebrate “New Year’s Day!”

Singer Brad Paisley once said that the new year is “the first page of a 365 page book [so] write a good one!”

For most of us, New Year’s is the last big hurrah of our winter break before returning to work and school. Soon, the decorations will come down, the lights will be unplugged, the pine needles will be vacuumed up, and we’ll dive back into school and cold weather and early sunsets. 

And all those resolutions that everyone made on New Year’s Eve? How long before those are broken? One study found that only 8% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions keep them all year and that 80% of people have abandoned them by the beginning of February. With statistics like that, why even bother?

Well, one thing I’ve always loved about school (both as a student and as a teacher!) are the built in opportunities for a fresh start. Was fifth grade a difficult year? Well, sixth grade is a blank page, just waiting for you to make your mark! Did you have a rough first quarter in math? Well, the second quarter is a clean slate to try again! Did you teach a lesson that just didn’t go right? Regroup and reteach it a different way tomorrow! Just like the saying goes: “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” 

A resolution is only as good as the plan behind it. If your resolution is to get straight A’s, what new study habits are you going to try? What is your plan for when you’re having trouble with new material? If your resolution is to score at least 20 points per basketball game, what new drills will you learn to help you become a better shooter? How many minutes will you devote each day to making free throws? 

A resolution with a plan is more likely to succeed than a resolution without a plan, but I’d also like for you to consider making a resolution without a resolution. 

Huh? 

A few years ago, I was introduced to the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page which encourages people to choose one word to be the focus for their year. So instead of making a resolution to earn straight A’s or score at least 20 points per game, you might choose the word “commit” and spend your year committing to academics and athletics. You might choose the word “time” and commit to devoting time each day to improving your game and improving your grades. You might choose the word “learn” and really focus on soaking in as much information as possible in the classroom and on the basketball court, concentrating more on the process of becoming a better student and athlete instead of focusing only on grades and scoreboards. Choosing to devote your year to a word instead of to an overly specific goal allows you to explore how you can apply that one word to a myriad of situations. Basketball is only one part of your life, but you can demonstrate “commitment” all year long. Grades are one small piece of your year, but you can “learn” something new every day in every situation. 

A few years ago, the word I settled on was “action.” I was a world champion procrastinator, fueled by fear of failure. But I committed to one year of less thinking and more acting. At the conclusion of that year, I had taught myself how to paint, written the first short story for a collection of short stories I had been planning for years, and, by watching hours of YouTube tutorials, I successfully epoxied my garage floor. Now unless you have a passion for sealing concrete floors, the word “action” would probably look much different for you, but what we could celebrate together would be our mutual decision to take a risk and to just go for it. Because that’s what New Year’s resolutions are all about: celebrating what’s possible! Celebrating hope!

Minecraft paintings for my son’s room

Our newly epoxied garage floor!

This year, as I prepare to turn 40, my word is “bloom.” I want to use this year as an opportunity to focus on my dreams and on what I’d like to accomplish by this milestone birthday. I do have some specific goals in mind, some feathers I’d like to put in my cap by my birthday, but those goals will not drive my year. I will judge the success of my year by my commitment to blooming, to my commitment to becoming the best version of myself.

picking a word to help you become the best version of YOURSELF! Need some ideas? Click HERE.

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