I'm saying this after a week of observing largely well intentioned challenges and directives to make resolutions and set goals. In addition to these "New Year's" challenges, many individuals are already struggling under the enormous pressure of maintaining expectations that they established in previous years. The weight of others' expectations, intermixed with our own self imposed standards, can be suffocating. Debilitating even.
We are so incredibly hard on ourselves.
I'm not suggesting that goal setting and establishing high expectations, both for ourselves and for others, is not a valuable and necessary exercise. Although I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, I am a firm believer in taking on new challenges and opportunities, of finding your "edge" and pushing beyond it... But sometimes the weight of either self imposed or external expectations can make it difficult, almost impossible, to change our current trajectory, to re-evaluate, re-assess and forge a new trail.
I see the impact of these weighty expectations not only on my family, friends and colleagues, but on the students in my school community. With anxiety and mental health issues on the rise, how are our expectations of our students' contributing to this trend? Are our students forging their own paths to success, or simply following a route that others have mapped out for them? Are they pursuing interests and passions that fulfil their purpose and goal, or are they obediently complying with others' expectations of what they should be?
In the end, I truly believe it's about finding a balance...allowing ourselves to be inspired, motivated and challenged by others, but also giving ourselves permission to shift course, to forge a new path in unexpected and uncertain directions.
I'm still working to find that balance and although I have more questions than answers, I'm pretty sure it's not something that can be encapsulated in a New Year's resolution or accomplished within the timespan of the year. So I'm giving myself (and others) permission to take their time, to make mistakes, to risk disappointment and even failure. Because some of my most incredible and rewarding opportunities have come to me "by mistake".
So, here's to more questions than answers, to the journey ahead, to a year filled with possibility and potential...
Happy New Year. :)