Looking Back…Finding Bright Spots

looking back

Photo credit: Egidijus Mika

As 2013 winds down, I want to take some time to look back and reflect on my journey over the past year. A year ago, I made a commitment to myself to take time to stop, reflect, and share my learning and thinking with others through my blog. I decided to shift from being primarily a consumer of the insights of other educators to being an active contributor to the conversation. Along the way, I struggled with the usual doubts — What would I have to say? Would anyone really care? Where do I find the time? And, I stuck with it. I wondered how I could apply what I learned in the process to other areas in my personal and professional life.

Anyone who has ever made a New Year’s resolution knows that sticking with it is the hardest the part. Yesterday, a timely e-mail newsletter arrived in my inbox from Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the book Switch. The subject line read simply: “4 Research-Backed Tips for Sticking to Your New Years Resolution.” I could not resist.

The Heath brothers started by pointing out our dismal record for keeping resolutions: “The research on resolutions is damning: A study of 3,000 people led by Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, found that 88% broke their resolutions. (Even people who resolved merely to “enjoy life more” failed 68% of the time.).”

So, how can we improve our odds of actually keeping our resolutions? One of their tips really stood out for me. They suggest shifting our focus from what is not working (“what is the problem and how do I fix it?”) to looking at our “bright spots” — “What’s working and how can I do more of it?”

As I reflect over the past year, I realized that what worked for me was setting a specific goal. I initially started out with an ambitious goal of writing a blog post each week. Early on, this goal conflicted with my desire for some sort of balance in my life. Rather than abandon the whole commitment to blogging, I set a more realistic goal — to write one post each month and I did not let myself off the hook.

To be honest, at different points throughout the year, keeping this “more realistic” goal seemed daunting. In those moments, having a supportive network really helped me to stick with it by reminding me that the effort I put in reaped rewards (thank you, Lyn Hilt – @lynhilt) and providing me with a gentle nudge when I needed it (thank you, George Couros – @gcouros).

I learned a valuable lesson in the process. By setting a concrete goal and drawing upon the encouragement of others, I was able to keep my commitment to myself. In return, I have deepened my appreciation of the expansive power of my own connected learning. It has been an amazing journey this year.

What are your “Bright Spots”? What lessons do they hold for you?

6 thoughts on “Looking Back…Finding Bright Spots

  1. I first must thank you for your blog. I came across it several days ago while surfing and, truth be told, looking for the inspiration to participate in the “Grand Conversation.” The very first post I read was, A personal challenge dated December 2012. In fact, I have referred to it in my initial post (not yet completed). As I begin the journey that you bravely started a year ago, I keep going back to your words and examples for courage and a digital “kick in the pants.”

    I only hope that my words and ideas are a fourth as eloquent as yours. If this comes to be, I will consider my experiment a success. Congratulations on a successful year!

    • Hi Juan,
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful feedback. I think we all provide each other with courage to take risks and the occasion, “digital kick in the pant” (love this!). By sharing our process, we, in turn, inspire others. I look forward to reading your post.

      Wishing you the best for the new year!

      With warm regards,


  2. Rather than respond to the questions you posed, I’d like to offer what (sometimes!) motivates me to keep those pesky New Year’s resolutions and other “good-for-me” goals. No surprise . . . it starts with purpose. I keep in view WHY I have this specific goal. What is the desirable future it points to? Let’s see if that helps me keep my resolution to get out and walk a few miles a few times a week!

    • Hi Anne,
      Thank you for sharing your insights. I agree we need to begin with a clear sense of our purpose. Otherwise, our goals and intentions lack meaning. Keeping the “Why” in mind is definitely important to take the initial steps and to get moving toward our “desirable future.” As always, I appreciate your comments and the way that you help me to clarify my own thinking.


      Wishing you the best in the new year!


  3. Jennie –
    I’m so very glad that you set, and stuck with your goal! I’ve really enjoyed reading your thoughts and insights throughout the year, and look forward to more in 2014. I love the “Bright Spots” approach to a resolution….got me thinking.

    Thanks for modeling what a “learning leader” does, Jennie.


    • Mickey,

      Thank you for your comments. I value your insights. I am honored that you read and even find some tidbits in my posts worth considering. The “Bright Spots” approach definitely gave me food for thought.

      With much appreciation,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s