New Year – New you?

As the New Year is well and truly underway we have reached that awkward point when we can no longer say ‘Happy New Year’ as a greeting, even if we are meeting someone for the first time since 2017 passed. In schools, colleges and universities it is always refreshing to have two opportunities a year to start afresh with the academic and calendar year. But ‘Resolutions’ as a concept only appear in January and seem to take less prominence these days.

How many of you, I wonder have undertaken a New Year’s resolution? A number, I imagine and you are not on your own. According to a recent poll, somewhere between 30 and 40% of the nation make this undertaking. The top three stand out – no surprises here….
1. To lose weight
2. To get fitter
3. To eat more healthily

I have embarked upon all three of these resolutions at various times, and generally failed miserably. I can empathise with the poll statistics showing unsurprisingly that 43% last less than a month and 80% break their resolutions within a year. What was interesting also was the nature of those top three…. All about yourself, about making you better. It is hardly surprising perhaps as the media is full of it. Type ‘New Year’s Resolution’ into a search engine or look at magazine cover and see ‘New Year, New You’, ‘How to find the inner you’ or ‘How to be successful in 2018.’

The more I thought about it, the more I recognised the egocentricity and it made me feel rather shallow.

Me, me, me.

The beginning of a new year is such a good time to pause and genuinely reflect on twelve months past and how things might be better in the year ahead. There is nothing wrong with self-improvement especially if at school, it involves improving grades and work commitment but how much better it would be if resolutions embraced a change in APPROACH. How much better it would be to improve attitudes to learning (which would lead to improved grades) ie to focus on the journey itself not just the destination, the outcome? Moreover how much better it would be if some of those goals were focused on others, upon our wider community, rather than self?

On the list of the nation’s New Year resolutions, you had to go a long way down to find one that involved others. 14% of the population had resolved to spend more time with friends and family. I wonder if any of you have made resolutions that are about others? How wonderful would it be if our resolutions were less about making ourselves more beautiful, more healthy, wealthier and more successful and more about making our community an even better place. Resolutions to be kinder, to help people, to talk to the people who seem lonely, to be happier, to value all we already have; these would be real commitments, acts of genuine selflessness.

We are focused upon a Growth Mindset here at Westholme; we want to open our minds but it is just as important to open our hearts. Open our hearts and minds to others to make each day positive where success is not measured by outcome but by the experience or what we have learned or shared with others; by reflecting on how we have helped a friend or experienced the joy of a ‘Wow’ moment. Last month as I watched the Infants enjoying play time at the Senior School when rehearsing for their Nativity, I was reminded of that openness as the meagre snow that lay on the ground around them prompted such excitement and wonder. Boy after girl, girl after boy came up to me with a small pile of snow on their be-gloved hands to proudly say ‘Look!’ Their eyes shone and it was impossible not to smile, even after the 15th time! They wanted to share, they wanted to enjoy even the smallest amount of snow and wanted to experience wonder at the melting snowflakes in their hands.

So as the Spring Term is underway in a new year, I encourage you to keep up your resolutions (if you made them) but maybe to try a different top three….
1. To think beyond yourself and help others
2. To adopt a permanent change in your outlook – opening your hearts and minds
3. To remember the intrinsic value of awe and wonder in some small way each day

In any case, I wish you well with the commitments ahead and all we have to achieve in this new term and 2018.

Lynne M Horner


Follow me on Twitter – @LynneMHorner