The December holidays are pretty much done. You (hopefully) have time to relax before New Year’s and the return to school. In this quiet space, it’s a great opportunity to take some time to think, focus your mindset, and be ready to bring your rejuvenated self to being the best leader and librarian you can be for the remainder of the school year. But where to start?

I am a great believer in gratitude. The daily stress and crises of life, both personal and professional, can drown out the good. Life will always happen, but we need to savor the happy moments. To do this, find a quiet spot. Take a notepad or your tablet with you and give yourself time to think. What do you have in your life that you are grateful for? Family and friends. Home, food, coffee, jobs we enjoy, the people who make our lives easier. Start listing them. As you continue to think, your list will get longer.

Reflect on the joys and celebrations you have had this year. I keep an “All Good Things” canister on my kitchen island. I record whenever something good happens to me or a family member on a sheet of paper from a small pad I keep in the cannister. Then I fold it, write the date on it, and put it back in the canister. On New Year’s Day, I empty the canister and put the folded sheets in chronological order. As I read through them, I can remember what I great year I had.

With those two steps completed, you are ready for the traditional writing of New Year’s resolutions, intentions, or goals. Knowing how often these are made and quickly broken, consider Dan Rockwell’s suggestions in A New Year – A New Focus and do it differently.

His novel idea is to start by making a “Don’t Want” list. You’ll be amazed by how quickly you’ll write this. We are quite clear about what we want less of. Follow it with a short explanation of how to keep it out of your life (or minimize it.)  For example, you may not want to feel so tired. So, you will need to go to bed earlier. Perhaps you don’t want to be always going from task to task like the Energizer bunny. You will have to prioritize your commitments and learn to say, “no.”

Rockwell says to then consider what you do want. Think about what you want more of in your life and then ask yourself what it would take – what would the steps be – to have that in your life. If you want more time with your family what will you need to do? What will you stop doing to give yourself more time? On the professional level, you might want to collaborate with more teachers. Who can you reach out to? (You don’t want to tackle too many. Remember you are prioritizing your commitments.) What’s the best way to connect with that teacher? How can you build your relationship with them?

With these two lists, you now have a clearer idea of where to focus in the New Year. Reflect again. This time on what went well this year. How can you improve on what didn’t? How can you take your successes to the next level? How can you let go of what didn’t work or didn’t serve you?

And lastly, Rockwell (and I heartily agree) asks “How do you want to bring value to yourself and others? You have noted how much you have to be grateful for. Now it is time to focus on the ways you can give back. You are a leader. What do you need to do that will strengthen and grow your community? But do maintain balance in your life. It will be a matter of priorities.

Quiet time over. You have set your direction for the New Year. Now enjoy the remainder of your vacation.

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