Teachers, Ditch Those Resolutions and Do This 1 Thing

Ah, the New Year! That magical time when we convince ourselves that this year, yes, THIS year, we’ll actually stick to our resolutions. And we don’t. And we beat ourselves up. The New Year is cruel. Let’s ditch those resolutions, teachers, and do this one thing instead.

Ah, the New Year! That magical time when we convince ourselves that this year, yes, THIS year, we’ll actually stick to our resolutions. And we don’t. And we beat ourselves up. The New Year is cruel. Let’s ditch those resolutions, teachers, and do this 1 thing instead. Hear me out.

Year after year, I have the best intentions. I vow not to let papers pile up, to finally be that organized person I make fun of but secretly admire. I vow to have a hot and healthy meal on the table every night by 7:00 for my family, to sit around the table and talk about our day. I vow to cut back on the caffeine, to forgo that seventh cup of coffee at noon. I vow to go to bed at 10:00 PM, to get enough sleep to be 100% present for my students and my family the next day. I could go on.

But it never fails. By the first week in February, my family’s sitting on the sofa, noshing on fast food fries at 9:00 PM because the table’s cluttered with papers that should have been graded two weeks ago. I’m on my thirteenth cup of coffee, working toward a Netflix binge that will last well beyond midnight.

And I’m not alone. There’s psychology behind why our resolutions fail.

I’ve never gotten the New Year’s Resolution right (except for the time I resolved to have more fun–I liked that one).

So, this year, I’ve made the executive decision not to make New Year’s Resolutions. Well, okay, I’m making one. Just one. I can focus on one if it’s easy.

And I’m inviting you to do the same.

Teachers have a lot on our plates. It can get overwhelming at times. That’s just how it is. I’m through telling myself that I’m failing because I can’t do it all.

Nobody can do it all. Your friends on Instagram are LIARS.

There’s just one thing I’m resolved to do this year. And it’s not the typical list of improvements. It’s one simple thing. So, here it is.

The 1 Thing I Ditched My Resolutions For

I resolve to show myself compassion.

The same compassion I try to show my students and my family.

I think most people in service professions like education tend to show others a lot of compassion, but then we turn around and beat ourselves up for not being able to do it all.

If the papers are piling up, I’ll pass them back and let students peer edit. I’ll put a checkmark at the top and give general feedback to the class. I won’t assign that essay this week. My friends, we should not be spending all hours grading. I had one teacher tell me once, “Calm down, we’re not curing cancer.”

And we’re not. What we’re doing is important, but unlike a neurosurgeon, we do have some flexibility.

Takeout doesn’t have to be french fries. There’s grilled chicken salad and Costco stuffed peppers. I don’t have to cook to feed my family. What counts is that we talk and spend time together. Not how we do it. I can microwave like a pro.

I’m not really sure what to do about the excessive caffeine and adequate sleep. Maybe I’ll keep decaf pods handy for the afternoon. Maybe if I get into bed by 10:00 and just read a paper book, I’ll fall asleep before midnight. But it’s okay. I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

I’m working on compassion for myself this year and that’s all.

We have a tough job with many moving parts. Add a family to that and it’s easy to feel inadequate. But you’re not.

The mere fact that you chose to teach when you had other options (higher-paying ones) says something about you as a person. You chose to make a difference in other people’s lives. You care deeply for your students.

Do the same for yourself this year.

How do you feel about New Year’s Resolutions? Did you make any, or are you over them like I am? Reach out and let me know!

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