This time of year often brings reflection of the past year and inspires plans to do better in the coming year. A quick web search brought up a list of top 10 resolutions our government outlined as popular on the USA.gov website, the website that refers to itself as the Government Made Easy:
- Drink Less Alcohol
- Eat Healthy Food
- Get a Better Education
- Get a Better Job
- Get Fit
- Lose Weight
- Manage Debt
- Manage Stress
- Quit Smoking
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
- Save Money
- Take a Trip
- Volunteer to Help Others
I think many of us would benefit from taking a closer look at one or more of the above areas in our life but I think the key to making resolutions, to starting fresh in the New Year, is the motivation behind changing any aspect of our life.
If we all had an opportunity to experience what George Bailey did in It’s a Wonderful Life, the chance to see exactly what life would be like for others if we were never born, would we change how we live? In George’s life, we got to see the negative impact his absence had on so many lives in Bedford Falls.
I will flip that coin and wonder what ways my presence has negatively impacted the world around us. For instance, if I were more fit, would I have stronger overall health to manage time and stress better, thereby allowing more time to volunteer or take a trip? Or, if I drank out of fewer disposable plastic bottles, would the ozone layer stay intact long enough to keep the sun and its UV rays at bay long enough for my nieces to be able to see a white Christmas when they are my age? If snow someday ceased and I could see the playback of my life with the total excess of non-renewable materials I used, right down to the last plastic bottle of diet soda I drank that pushed the stratosphere’s tipping point, surely I wouldn’t drink that last bottle. Right?
I hate to use money as motivation but I like where the concrete reward goes in this example of how motivation can drive the success rate of a goal. A WebMD article described a depressing reality that of Americans who make healthier New Year’s resolutions, only 15% claim success a year later. The article casts part of the blame on the timing, suggesting that goals of weight loss and more exercise would be likelier to keep in the spring when the weather permits more exercise and the actions provide more rewards leading up to swimsuit season. It sounds like an excuse to me, but I bought into the next part of the article. To enhance the success rate of resolutions, psychologist, Stephen Kraus, PhD, suggests a deposit and refund method as motivation to enhance the success rate:
“Give a good friend $500,” he says. “That’s the deposit. Then have the friend refund the money at the rate of, say, $50 for every pound you lose, or $5 for every visit to the gym. That way you reward your own progress and make instant gratification work for you.”
Just as teachers do with their students, it’s important to create realistic goals and focus on a short term schedule with positive reinforcement, not shame and punishment. The point I am trying to make is that if the motivation for personal development balanced the impacts of others and not just success, vanity, or wealth, the priorities would certainly change. If you take a spring Continuing Ed course to renew teacher certification in a subject you already know well merely to meet the requirement, who benefits? Expand your horizons and see how a SMART Board course could help enhance your instruction. Take a Spanish for Educators course to gain confidence when speaking to parents. Or try an online course to see where the direction of education might be going for many of your college bound students. Any of those options could benefit multiple audiences, which will be more fulfilling for you to complete in the end.
I started this blog after pledging to myself to write blogs on a more consistent basis in 2013. Given the competitors in education and the choices you have, I wanted to write more blogs to give you insight about Trinity. In essence, my motivation is for more students to get an inside look at the type of place Trinity is, what our priorities are in Continuing Education and highlight the enriching courses our instructors work hard to share with you. I’m not sure this blog really nailed all of that, but if it might make you think twice about your resolutions this year, I will count that as a success. Go ahead and make the goals about saving money, losing weight, doing better, etc., if habit makes you fill that need, but add a new goal this year that includes another audience. See if George Bailey can motivate you to realize all the ways you impact other people. Grow in areas that will benefit the masses and you’ll be glad you did; after all, George ended up the richest man in town.