New Year, New You. That's the message we see so frequently this time of year, as people begin to focus on resolutions for self-improvement. And going into 2020, the pressure to re-invent oneself feels heightened as we enter a new decade—reflecting on where we've been and where we want to go. I'm all about self-improvement, but I worry that the stress of consistently hearing we need to improve in some way sends an implicit message, particularly to younger people, that we're never going to be good enough. Do our students feel the same anxieties to re-invent themselves as many adults do? Are they learning to improve because they love themselves, or because they feel they're wrong or lacking in some way?
When I was a student, I loved setting New Year's resolutions. My childhood resolutions were always goal-oriented, but oftentimes just set playfully for myself and very rarely followed through on. And by the time I entered high school, I realized a lot of my friends were making resolutions to lose weight or to look a certain way, which made making resolutions feel more like a chore than something fun.
Being able to set goals for oneself and then self-manage to achieve them is a critical life skill, but also a concept that can get warped with New Year's Resolution-setting pressures. So, how can teachers leverage this time of year to teach a practical lesson, that could also help to alleviate some holiday anxieties their students might be feeling? In the spirit of my old love for resolutions, I pulled together a few ideas to ring in the new decade by teaching practical goal-setting and self-management.
One way to help your students understand how to set and achieve their goals is through Solomon Cameron. Solomon is an Australian teenager who set a goal for himself to become the youngest person to fly solo around Australia and to raise money to help people around his country receive medical care.