I know there’s a body of research on New Year’s resolutions, and I know generally people are really bad at keeping them. My track record isn’t good. I have done the general (lose weight a common one). The specific (pack lunches to work or cook and freeze meals for family – works through January). The “realistic” (eat more vegetables). The important (be more patient with children). My former workout buddy and I used to lament the gym crowds in January and find relief in March when we didn’t have to wait for our cardio machines anymore, so I know I’m not the only one with trouble sticking to it.
I’ve noticed for the past couple of years that some friends have gone with one-word intention for the new year rather than a resolution. And apparently (I just looked) it’s now a thing on Twitter, too #OneWord2019). Some people are even having their classes do it. So I decided I would try it this year. My daughter and I thought maybe others would want to try it, too, so we set up a board for others to join us on New Year’s Eve, even including a bowl of inspirational words if people felt limited.
It took me a while to settle on my own word. I juggled some like joy and shine. But I have a fair bit of joy, I just don’t always notice it when it’s there. So I played with appreciate, but it didn’t stick. I cycled through some like peace, reflect, and Zen. But who is kidding who, I’m never going to be Zen or fully at peace. They didn’t feel realistic or sit well with me. And then it came to me, and stuck all day.
I think that’s my word. It reminds me a bit of what we teach kids in socioemotional learning (SEL). Take a moment. Breathe. Pause. Then respond. When my kids were in kindergarten they had an SEL curriculum where they learned to turtle – take a moment and physically turtle instead of immediately reacting. For a while when the kids were little, if I felt overwhelmed as a parent, I would physically turtle to remind them of the technique and the fact that we have strategies other than yelling to deal with emotions.
I’m not going to turtle in a faculty meeting (though I did once in front of my 350-student class, but only as a demonstration). But I can work to take a moment before reacting. And I can do the same thing with my family members. Pause in the moment before reacting.
And I think of it more generally, too. Pause before deciding the best thing in this moment is to go on Facebook or to check my work email in the middle of watching a movie with the kids. Pause to listen to the kids’ story (even if it’s about what happened while playing Minecraft) instead of staring into space. Appreciate the quiet moments, or the loud moments, for what they are, before trying to alter them.
I’m not going to dramatically change my personality overnight. I’m not going to become Zen-master Eva. But if I can find more moments to pause, I think that will help. At least until February.
“One-word intention for 2019 first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on January 1, 2019.”