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Posts tagged ‘New Year Resolutions’

Making 2016 a G.R.E.A.T. Journey

redwood path

The New Year is already two weeks old.  My birthday was just the other day.  Those facts mean it is time for me to do some thinking and planning to make 2016 a great journey through life.  A good journey involves some plans and destinations as well as a bit of spontaneity and serendipity as well as lots of nature.  For some, each year’s journey starts by making resolutions. I do not.  As others have said, if you are really wanting to make a major change in your life, why wait for a new year.  Just start the adventure!

TearsGoals and plans for a new year make more sense.  But, of course, those need to be realistic and broad enough to not just give you a chance to fail.  You know, I will be more active in the new year rather than I will go to the gym an hour every day.  One missed weekend at the gym and you are a failure vs. having an off weekend.  I tend to agree with Mma. Ramostwe, the main character in Alexander McCall Smith’s series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  She basically says that humans tend to do what they do, over and over again:

“The trouble with plans, she thought, was that they tended to be expressions of hope. Everybody, it seemed, felt that they should have a plan, but for most people the plan merely said what they would like to happen rather than what they would actually achieve.  Most people did what they wanted to do, whether or not that was what their plan said they should do.  So plans were useful only in revealing what people wished for. If you wanted to know what they would actually do, then the only way of finding out was by watching them and seeing what they did.  Then you would know what they might do in the future—because most people did what they had always done.”  

All this means is that as my new journey begins, I am not making any specific plans.  I made some last year:  blog more (did not), read more (did), travel (did), eat better (did some, but not consistently) and complete various household projects (did a few).  This year, I still have the same basic projects and am hopeful I will be more productive than last year.  My plan is to focus more on attitude and perspective as well as on enjoying the adventure.  These are the real factors that can determine whether 2016 will be a G.R.E.A.T. year or not.


Basically, I know my year will be G.R.E.A.T. because I commit myself to following the best path possible through the new year: 

GRATITUDE:   There is always something to be grateful for or a grateful way to look at whatever happens. For example, rather than being bummed that I was in a fender bender right before Christmas, I am thankful that no one was hurt and the older gentleman who hit me had insurance.  I always keep a gratitude journal but plan to be even more proactive in finding ways to appreciate all going on around me.  And I will share my appreciation and gratitude with others.  Gratitude—like laughter and happiness—can be contagious!  I vow to acknowledge and voice gratitude frequently!

reflection 5REFLECTION:  Looking back over what has happened, what worked and what didn’t is the true heart of learning. The old adage about experience being the best teacher is only half right.  It is easy to do dumb things over and over again.  What really matters is reflecting on the mistakes, outcomes, successes to become more conscious of the consequences, of the changes or action needed to improve the future.  Without reflection there is no real learning. I vow to reflect on each day and its lessons every week!

EXPECTATIONS:  It is rather easy to go through each day, week, even month just doing the norm, making it from morning to night and then starting all over again.  Something to celebrate surfaces when meeting or exceeding expectations.  Setting those expectations is the key. They cannot be set so high that they can never be reached, but not so low that they do not off the challenge to do more, to push beyond the comfort zone.  Realistic expectations lead to accomplishments which lead to celebrating each small step toward success.  Clear expectations lead to productivity rather than just activity.    I vow to have realistic but definite expectations!

IMG_8534IMG_8526ATTENTIVE:  Too many days are spent on auto-pilot, just going through the routine, getting from point A to point B.  When I was working full time and putting in way too many hours a week, chasing deadlines, it was too easy to never notice the little things that really do matter.  The smile or tear of a colleague, the gorgeous clouds, the rainbow amidst the storm, the stranger who holds a door for you or needs help picking up packages.  Of course, being busy is not the only reason the details—especially of nature—are too often overlooked.  The other day I actually did not notice blooming camellias on the bush outside my door until I was returning home several hours later.  I vow to be more consistently attentive this year! 

TIME:  168.  That’s how many hours we each have a week.  The trick to effective time management is recognizing that and using the available time strategically.  That strategy involves being conscious and deliberate with the use of time.  That means fewer hours mindlessly dozing in front of the TV or missing fun opportunities because time has been mindlessly wasted on doing not much of anything.  I vow to use my time purposely!


My 2016 will be a grand adventure.  What are your plans for the new year?

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“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want.”   Oscar Wilde

“Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”  Voltaire

“If you don’t think every day is a good day, just try missing one.”  Cavett Robert

“It’s so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to.”  Annie Gottlier

“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts.  It’s what you do with what you have left.”  Hubert Humphrey

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  Winston Churchill

“There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.”  Robert Brault

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  George Santayana

“So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”  The Eagles, “Already Gone”

“He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.”  Samuel Johnson

“Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.”  H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Every thought is a seed.  If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.”  Bill Meyer

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.  One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”  Mahatma Gandhi

“Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist.”  David Ben-Gurion

“There is a saying among prospectors: ‘Go out looking for one thing, and that’s all you’ll ever find.’”  Robert Flaherty

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”  Buddha

“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”  Anne Frank

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”  Jon Kabat-Zinn

“A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.”  Patricia Neal

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” 
William James

“Sometimes life’s Hell.  But hey!  Whatever gets the marshmallows toasty.”  J. Andrew Helt

Topic Y: A Brand New YEAR


Well, it is a little over a week into 2014.  For most of us, the past several weeks have been a time of celebration and reflection as well as a time of expectation and planning.  Did you make New Year’s Resolutions?  Have you broken them yet?  Many people have and are already discouraged. Hopefully, they are revising their plans or are starting over with ways to make things better in their lives.

Some of us (like me) have not settled on our plans for the new year yet.  I prepare my goals each year for my birthday, which comes up this weekend.  As I make my plans this year, I am aware of how challenging this whole new-year-resolutions-business is.  Much harder than remembering to write 2014 on my checks—and I have not developed that habit yet either!

As I struggle with finalizing my goals, I know what I should be doing.  For one thing, I need a theme of some sort to help me stay focused with my plans throughout the year. One blog I follow is by Holly Gerth. She suggests finding a theme in her post What’s Your One Word for 2014?  I like this idea to find the one word that is just right for this year and to keep it with you all year long.  This one word can become the filter used to help make day-to-day decisions that invariably impact your overall goals.  It is the talisman in your pocket that gives you comfort in moments of doubt or anxiety.  It is the guiding light that keeps you on course throughout the year.

My problem is I have not settled on my word yet.  I have been considering several recently, but they change a bit each day.  I first thought of “Retirement,” but that is a decision I may be making this year, not a theme or guiding principle.  Right now, I am considering these words:  Risk, Bold, Adventure, you get the idea.  I also am looking to Happiness, Love, Honesty since they are my usual guides.  I will make my decision by Sunday, when I finalize my plans for the new year.

Even once I settle on a word, I want to make some goals, so I have something specific to devote my energies to.  In this regard, I have to remember the advice I often give faculty when they are setting goals for their upcoming year of evaluation.  Goals need to be specific, but not limiting.  In essay writing terms, goals need to be more like thesis statements (opinions) rather than details or facts.  For example, attending a specific technology conference to learn some new classroom strategies is not a great goal.  What happens if you for some reason cannot attend or you do not learn anything that interests you?  You are left with not meeting your goal.  Instead, the goal should be exploring new technologies to enhance classroom teaching.  Then, yes, if you get to that conference, you can accomplish the goal.  But you leave yourself open to other pathways as well.

Another tidbit I share with others but need to remember to follow for myself is to limit the total number of goals.  If you have too many goals, you will undoubtedly fail—or at least get off schedule—when life’s interruptions surface.  And they will surface.  Life is messy.  There are accidents and unexpected visitors, new friends and relationships, sicknesses, new jobs, winning the lottery—the list can go on and on.  The point is to remember that these as yet unknown challenges and surprises will surface, so keep your goals to a manageable few, so you won’t drop them while you juggle everything else.

The final bit of advice I give others but often forget to follow myself is the need to be as forgiving of myself as we are of others.  If someone else slips up—does not get to the gym one day, overeats on a weekend, forgoes a walk—we often tell them, “It’s okay, you will get back to that new routine.”  Often, to ourselves, we are much harder, focusing on the misstep or lapse of activity rather than on the chance to get started again.  If you have not yet completed your goal or activity, that does not mean, you will not.  Focus on getting started again, on applauding when things go right, and remembering that persistence is a success.  This need to stay encouraged and focused is another reason to carefully craft goals.  It is easier to build momentum with small steps that can be applauded.

If I can remember these tips, when I finally settle on my word and follow-up goals, I am confident I will find success throughout 2014.  It will be a great year.  If any one week or month seems to be holding me back from succeeding, I need to remind myself that even though I have not accomplished my goal YET, I will.  That YET is a great little word to remember.  It holds all the hope and expectation of the new year, every day!  [Hey, YET is another word that meets Topic Y.  Imagine that.]

Happy New Year!

What advice helps you stay focused on your plans for making 2014 the best year ever?

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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”   Ernest Hemingway

“Aim higher in case you fall short.”   Suzanne Collins

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Not put the foundations under them.”   Henry David Thoreau

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”   Louisa May Alcott

“If you were born without wings, do nothing to prevent them from growing.”   Coco Chanel

“Happiness is not a goal—it’s a by-product of a life well lived.”   Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you want a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”   Albert Einstein

“You never know what’s around the corner.  It could be everything.  Or it could be nothing.  You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”    Tom Hiddleston

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success.”   Henry David Thoreau

“Setting a goal is not the main thing.  It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”   Tom Landry

“The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move.”   Brian Tracy

“The most important thing about motivation is goal setting.  You should always have a goal.”  Francie Larrieu Smith

“The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly.  That is dedication.”   Cecil B. De Mille

“The important thing is to strive towards a goal which is not immediately visible.  That goal is not the concern of the mind, but of the spirit.”   Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”   Sidney Howard

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”   Lawrence J. Peter

“It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done compared to what he might have done.”   Samuel Johnson

“Goals are dreams with deadlines.”   Diana Scharf Hunt

“Only those who will risk going too far can possible find out how far one can go.”                  T. S. Eliot

“The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it.”   Charles DeLint

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion.  You must set yourself on fire.”   Arnold H. Glasow

“A deadline is negative inspiration.  Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.”  Rita Mae Brown

“I love deadlines.  I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”   Douglas Adams

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