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?