The new year has begun. Did you make a resolution, or did you not bother because you never stick to them? In December. I blogged about Gratitude, Reflections, and Resolutions, but the holiday season was imminent. You may not have had the time to make those resolutions or reflect on the past year. Good news – there’s no reason you can’t do it now.
Why am I making such a point about resolutions? It’s because I am a strong believer in goals that get you to where you want to go. I often quote the famous “philosopher” Yogi Berra’s who said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up someplace else.” Too many people finish the year “someplace else.”
I have embraced the AASL Vision, “Every school librarian is a leader; every learner has a school librarian.” For me, this translates into writing and curating ideas and resources to give school librarians techniques and tools to build their leadership. It means I learn as much as I can about new trends as well as challenges so that I can better advocate for librarians with people I meet, making them more aware and, if they aren’t already, making them supporters of school libraries. This is always the focus of the professional goals I set for the year.
In How to Have a Good Year, David Bigman has the following suggestions for making resolutions you actually keep:
Set Better Goals- Having big goals is great, “but boil it down to something really practical that you can measure yourself or notice yourself doing every day, every week, but something that’s tangible.” The vision I embraced is huge. But my weekly goals include finding topics and writing my weekly blog, working on the second edition of Leading for School Librarians, and teaching pre-service school librarians.
Bigman’s blog post cautions against setting too many goals, recommending one professional and one personal goal. Although I have 3 professional ones, they have been ingrained as habits for me. My personal goal is about walking which improves my mindset and my physical well-being.
Acknowledge Tensions – Life is stressful. List the tension areas in your life both professional and personal. The bad news is they won’t go away. You have heard of another “philosopher,” Roseanne Roseannadanna (played by the amazing Gilda Radner) from the original cast Saturday Night Live, who said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
To deal with the tensions on your list, reflect on how severely each impacts your life. What can you do to ease them slightly? Where can you get support? You won’t eliminate them but getting a handle on them will help you stop beating yourself up about not being able to manage them better or get everything done.
Connect with Others – The pandemic showed us how much humans need social contact to thive. Make sure you plug this into your weekly actions. I have lunch with a friend once a month. I have scheduled calls with relatives so that I don’t allow my tasks to cause me to neglect what is so important to my mental health.
Your PLN is also important. School librarians are lonely. Yes, they interact with the whole school population, but no one in the building truly understands the scope and demands of the job. Get a mentor or be a mentor. Serve on your state’s school library association. It will enrich you on many levels. And take time to share your goals and resolutions with peers and friends – you never know where support can come from.
Focus on Certainties – There are so many uncertainties in our life and worrying about them adds to our tensions. Instead, consider the certainties you deal with. There is a certain rhythm to the school year and predictable deadlines. These can help calm us in rougher times.
By managing the certainties as efficiently as possible, you can ease tensions which makes it easier to handle those uncertainties. As the blog notes, “This will really help you do your clearest best thinking about the things that are uncertain and are nebulous and hard to wrap your arms around.”
Retake Some Time – Try doing a time audit. How much time are you taking for your various professional and personal tasks? Do they really need that much? How can you cut back on some so that you can give more time to your priorities?
If you set a time limit for going through email, you might find you can get it done faster and just as well. Do you really have to stay as late as usual or on as many days? Leaving early at least one day a week could strengthen your relationships outside of work and give you needed mental break. Finding places to reduce the time you invest in a task makes you calmer and feeling more successful.
So where do you want to be next January? The “resolutions” or goal you set today are the best way to help you get there. From my resolutions to yours – I’m wishing you a great year!