Fresh Start – Again

I miss going to school.

Perhaps that is why I have stayed in education as long as I have. Working in a school at least feels like I am in school.  One of my favorite parts about going to school was the annual fresh school supplies.  This list would come out, and we would go off to the store to purchase the new markers and the new pencils.  I especially loved the empty notebooks and clean folders.  They signified the new beginning – the previous school year was behind me and a new one about to begin.  I would learn new things in that new year.  Certainly it would build upon what I had learned the year before, but that new year would be better than the one before.  I would start each year full of hope and anticipation.

And then the first day of school would come and go, and before I knew it – I would be hoping that the year would end.  What once was exciting and new would be old and boring. The worst school year for this, as is the case for most kids, was my senior year in high school.  I was so ready to get out into the “real” world, and the high school scene was just not my thing anymore.  I even took a college class at UND just so I could experience the “real” life that was just around the corner.  For Minnesota students, this college experience can start in their junior or senior year of high school through the PSEO program.  I often think they are lucky, but now that I have my own kids – and we live in Minnesota – I am not too sure.  But I digress…

The point I was heading toward is that today is a new year – a fresh start.  2011 is behind us, and 2012 is in front of us.  It is a fresh notebook, an unused folder.  How will we fill the notebook?  What will we put into the folder?  How can we carry the excitement of today’s resolutions through to December 31, 2012?  What great things await us as this year progresses?  What trials and tribulations will come our way?

Last year, a very athletic friend had a Facebook status that said something to the effect of how she could always tell when the new year came around because “her gym” had more people in it that had been there the week prior.  Today Facebook will be full of resolutions that most of us will forget before the end of the week.  Our enthusiastic attempts to eat healthier, exercise more, and prioritize well often lose ground as soon as we wake up on January 2 because we set idealistic and lofty goals without thinking about the hard work that goes into them.  It is like the student who typically has a C average who thinks that this new year in school will be the straight A year.  That lasts until the student realizes that studying and hard work often are what bring in the better grade rather than just sheer desire.

So – I have devised a list of tips for those of us who need the tips (including me) in order to make the resolutions more than lip-service:

1.  Write the goals down with steps for accountability.  If we want to lose weight, how will we do that?  Weight Watchers has a great online tool for tracking food intake as well as exercise.  It also sets small goals along the way to the “big” goal.

2.  Engage a friend or family member in your goals.  Our family wants to read the Bible more, so the huz is going to find an online program for us all to follow.  We are excited about this, and we hope to follow through with it this year!

3.  Create a reward system.  I want to do more 5k races this year…and I might even want to try to run one!  Doing these requires money for entrance fees, but I get a tshirt for finishing.  That is rewarding to me.  I know – it’s the simple things.

4.  Be flexible.  It is a whole year for crying out loud!  If I decide today that I want to blog for the year (which I will just do because I love it, but go with the example, ok?) but soon find that I hate it, I should ditch it and replace it with something else.  I do warn that one be careful with this.

5.  Be intentional.  I take resolutions very seriously.  Even though I want to allow flexibility, I also do not want to be seen as flighty…and I am – kind of.  I have a tendency to pile on a bunch new things without taking stock of what might need to come off of my plate in order to make room for the new things.  This happened when I started blogging in August.  At the time, my kids were gone and I had time to fill.  What I did not think about was what that would mean when they returned and the time for blogging was eaten back up by their activities.

There are loads of other things, but I think that five is enough.  More than anything, the attitude of making the best of a new year is what really matters.

What are you doing with your fresh start?

Update at 10:14 a.m.: a friend has challenged me to join her, her daughter, and  her sister in “Water Only January.”  This is not a lack of food as none of us are that silly; however, it refers to beverages.  We did this back in July, and it was a great discipline to drink only water for a month.  I am considering it and may join them one day late as I have lunch plans which were going to include a glass of Coca-Cola.

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