My 2012 resolution project: A year of inspired insights

Sarah Eaton - blog imageI rarely make New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I think we tend to set vague goals that are impossible to achieve. “Lose weight”.

OK, so you don’t eat for a day and don’t drink anything for 12 hours. You step on the scale the next day and you’re down half a kilo. New Year’s Resolution achieved.

Now pass the chocolate.

Really, what’s the point of that?

SMART goals

The purpose of making a resolution is to keep it, and effectively make some sort of positive change in your life. Experts tell us that resolutions should follow the “SMART” formula:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • be set within a Time frame.

A new year’s resolution gone wrong: A year of taking vitamins…

Even then, there are no guarantees it will work out how you plan. The last time I made a resolution that I actually kept was over a decade ago. My resolution was not just to eat healthier, but to be vegetarian from January 1 to December 24 of the following year, allowing myself to end the resolution by eating Christmas turkey the next year.

No red meat and no poultry. No beef, no pork, no lamb, no chicken, no turkey. Any kind of flesh that came from a land animal was out. I figured that fish was OK and since I was raised in the maritimes, that keeping in one source of animal protein that I knew how to cook wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I did it.

I didn’t eat any red meat or poultry for an entire year. When I started, I had no vegetarian recipes in my repertoire and I had never purposefully eaten vegetarian food in my life. That year, I ate a lot of canned tuna, peanut butter and tofu.

And beans. We can’t forget the beans. Supper that year included beans on toast at least twice a week.

By the time my annual physical rolled around and we had some blood tests done, we found out that my iron levels at a level so unacceptably low that the doctor went off on an animated and emphatic rant about not knowing how I could even possibly get out of bed and function on any meaningful level. I was a bit tired, I had to admit. Listening to the rant made me more tired.

The rant led to lectures on nutrition and being told to take a daily cocktail of iron, vitamin C and B12. That effectively turned my year of vegetarianism into a year of taking vitamins. The iron levels were at non-doctor-ranting level about the time I got to eat my turkey dinner, which promptly made me ill and gave me terrible indigestion that lasted about 3 days.

That was 1994.

No more beans on toast for dinner

Since then, there have been no more resolutions. I try to avoid beans on toast for dinner now, too.

But recently I thought to myself, well maybe it is time to revisit this whole idea of a New Year’s Resolution. What if a resolution was not about doing something just for the sake of doing it? Or just to be able to claim victory at the end of the year to say “Yay! I did it!” and quietly ask yourself inside, “Now why did I do that, really?”

Those of us who are really stubborn and headstrong are more likely to keep our resolutions, I think. But then I wonder, what the point was to achieve whatever it was, except to prove that you could do it? That you were stubborn enough to do it. To what end?

All good experiments start with a question

This led to more questions, which eventually led to the decision to try an experiment that would ultimately result in me breaking my 18-year habit of not making any New Year’s Resolutions. As with all worthy experiments, this one starts with a question or two:

What if a New Year’s resolution wasn’t about achieving some personal goal, but rather, what if it was a resolution to share the best of ourselves with others, on a consistent basis? What if the resolution was about others and not about us? What would happen then?

18 years… A teacher all grown up

Interestingly, the last new year’s resolution I made, in 1994, was the first year of my teaching career. This year marks my 18th year of teaching. That’s a turning point in life, isn’t it? When you turn 18, you’re considered an adult. If that’s true, I’ve just passed a milestone of a professional birthday. I guess I’m a real, grown up teacher now.

We have a limited number of Christmas turkeys to eat in our lifetime. The older we get, the fewer turkeys we have left to enjoy. Few of us know for sure how many turkeys we have left. Now that I’ve passed a milestone “professional birthday” and before I run out of turkeys, I figure that there is no better time to start reflecting on what’s been amazing about this career so far, and share the best of those insights with you.

2012: A Year of Inspired Insights

Sarah Eaton (photo credit: Todd Maki) - Calgary, CanadaSo, my resolution for 2012 is to share my deepest insights and inspirations about teaching, leadership, literacy, language learning, technology and everything that I’m most passionate with you on a weekly basis. I’m calling the experiment: A Year of Inspired Insights.

Here’s the method:

Once a week, I’ll post an Inspired Insight. It might be something I’ve learned though my professional practice, something I’m reading or something that I have personally experience that has changed or transformed my work in some way. These will not be hollow platitudes or little cute little inspirational sayings that I’ve read somewhere along the way. They will be reflections, insights and challenges from my own experience; things that have made me think in new ways or have challenged me to re-think how I do things and why. The sharing will come in the form of professional experience, true stories from my own career and deep reflections about what professional practice means.

I’ll post once a week and I’ll number each post. For example, this week I’ll post “Inspired Insight #1”. I’ll do this weekly throughout the year and allow two weeks off (holidays, illness or just allowing myself to be UN-inspired every now and again). With two possible breaks, by the end of the year, with any luck we’ll have 50 Inspired Insights for 2012.

You are part of this experiment

The point is to share these insights with you and to go on this journey together, having your comments and reflections as part of the process.

I wonder if a project that involved sharing the best of who you are as a professional would have a positive impact on others? What would happen if a resolution was about creating something that others could take part in and use as a departure point for personal reflection and conversation… possibly even their own growth?

What do you think? Interested in joining me on a journey of inspiration for a year?

Related posts: Insight #1 – There is a silver lining in every ambulance


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

One Response to My 2012 resolution project: A year of inspired insights

  1. Alia says:

    This sounds great, Sarah. I’m looking forward to the first insight already!

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