Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New Year's Resolutions - Force of Habit.

ttp://sites.utexas.edu/ugs-csa/files/2014/01/2014-new-years-resolution-be-more-awesome.jpg
You've heard the research on habit-building, I am sure.  Force yourself to do something for 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 30 days -- depending on the study you read -- and by the end of that time, you'll have trained your brain to not only DO the habit, but CRAVE doing it.

I've loaded the dishwasher for 32 years, every single night.  I only CRAVE doing this when I see ants on my kitchen counter, which makes me crazier than the sink filled with dishes.  I do it because it has to be done, but nobody can make me like it, gosh-darned-it.

School starts exactly 3 weeks from today.  Many of my summer goals are checked off, and many are distant memories covered with dust.  For many teachers, this is the holiday season of New Year's Resolutions, with all sorts of goals and habits to achieve - some self, and some district - imposed.  So how can this upcoming school year be the best year, ever?  (Or, if you're a half-empty glass-viewer, what can you do NOW to simply survive until Thanksgiving?)

Here are the suggestions from the habits experts:

Leo Babauta, the Zen Guru of Habits offers his four step program.  

1.  Start Small.
2. Be Positive.
3. Savor the Habit.  (My new mantra, "I love my dishwasher...")
4. Have a Plan When You Falter.

Bigger than this very generic advice, though, is the advice from Edutopia entitled:
Essential Habits of an Excellent Educator.  Vicki Davis shares some seriously good advice -- much of which can be implemented before the start of school, allowing you to get a jump on the first day.  Simple things like updating the Substitute Teacher Folder, sketching out the school year against the calendar that the school board approved last spring.  Seizing control, or at least seemingly thinking you're in control before the first day is  -- at least -- an illusion of confidence that should get you through until Labor Day weekend, when you can revise and regroup.

Oh, and the Be Positive advice from Zen Leo?  DO IT.  Seriously.  Finding the happy side of life will change your attitude for the better.  Log on to Gretchen Rubin's site, and sign up for her encouraging email of the day.  Look at memes of puppies sleeping - whatever it takes.  Ultimately, your fuse will lengthen, and your mood will lighten.

Really.