Big Changes Start Small

With every start to a new year, comes reflection, goal setting, and new hopes for the future.  We all do this, right? As one year is coming to an end, it’s natural for us to look back and think about the good times, the bad, and the things we swore we were going to change after the holidays.  However, when the time comes, the phrase “New Year’s Resolution” has turned into a dreaded term we all seem to want to run and avoid. Why? It all comes down to one word: Failure.

However, as an educator, I have come to think that this is sending out a very hypocritical message.  We tell our students every day that failure is 100% more important and more meaningful than success will ever be.  The reason for that is because it is in the moments when we fail, that we actually walk away learning the most. So why don’t we apply this to our yearly resolutions?  It starts with not making the right kind of goals. A recent church message given by our Senior Pastor, Brian Tome, shed light on some guidelines we need to follow when making a resolution.  He describes it simply by the need of three Ms: Mentors, Motives, and Momentum. In order to make a lasting change, we need to surround ourselves by those who are already where we want to go, we need to know the root cause of why we want to change, and our goals should be small enough that they enable us to gain momentum and want to go further.

As a person who has refused to set any resolutions the past couple of years, I walked out of that service with a fresh perspective on the power of an effective resolution.  My goal for this year is to take better care of myself. Last year brought on a lot of different challenges that affected me mentally, physically, and emotionally. I already deeply knew my motive: I was on a roller coaster of stress for various reasons, there were moments when my body would shut down in an effort to save itself, and my long-time battle with anxiety threatened to bring a full-on war.  With Brian’s help, I realized that it is the small goals we set for ourselves that allow us to gain momentum towards reaching a true life change.  So I started making one change at a time, starting with a simple food log.  I’d started tracking what I ate and how much I was eating, which surprisingly to me, already made a huge impact on how I felt about myself.  This led to buying an exercise bike, pushing myself further to go a little longer each day, and now adding Pilates in the mornings as well. If I were to jump into all of these changes right away, I would have given up by the second week of January.  The power of surrounding yourself with mentors is what has been keeping me going this long.  My husband and I now have our daily routines we hold each other accountable for, my co-workers challenge me weekly on our Apple Watches, not to mention our staff Biggest Loser competition and monthly step challenges.  Brian said to “engage whenever you have the opportunity to do so” and so I have.

The ultimate lesson I have learned so far on this journey is that change doesn’t come from a growth word, a book, or a gym membership.  Change starts in your mind–and it starts small. Whether you’re wanting to make a change in your personal or professional life, ask yourself the question, “What is one small change I can make this week?”  Maybe your students can collaborate on a Google Doc one day this week in Writing. Make it a goal to smile and say hello to that one teacher who always walks by with her head down. Switch out your daily Coke at lunch for a water with lemon.  Then, make a new change next week. Those small changes could gain momentum and lead to something big, or you could fail and learn more about yourself that might lead to developing a deeper motive for change.

Katelyn Callahan, Leader, 4th grade Teacher, Taylor Mill Elementary


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