The Most Important Part of Your New Year’s Plan

The winter holidays have come and gone. Christmas parties and semester finals are distant memories. All the decorations are out of sight and the buzz of a new year can be felt throughout the campus. The hope is that staff and students used their much needed time off to reflect on the first half of their school year in order to course correct and make the most of the second half. The act of making New Year’s resolutions has been around for thousands of years. The tradition of making promises to improve or change various aspects of our physical, mental, and financial health is meant to direct us towards refocusing our attention to certain areas we feel need improvement. Statistics say that although around 45% of Americans make yearly resolutions on January 1st, only about 9% follow through! 

The numbers suggest that the road to success is paved with good intentions.  As counselors it should be our mission to assist students and staff with self-reflective goal setting practices, as well as, provide strategies for turning those actions into positive lifelong habits.

So, what are your most common resolutions as a school counselor? Do you plan to provide more individual counseling sessions or create small groups to tackle issues that plague the students on your campus, such as, self-harm, bullying, or underachievement? Are you interested in streamlining the processes you have in regards to your role as a testing coordinator or special services liaison? Would you like to create more connections between your campus and the community, in order to provide more resources for students and staff?

Any of these would be admirable and on point with your role as a counselor. There is a common thread that is woven throughout these resolutions and that is…time!

All of the goals mentioned above require time in one way or the other. Take a look at the ASCA National Model: Framework for School Counseling Programs here to see how time plays such a critical role in your pursuit of sticking with the resolutions you have made for this new year. Here are 3 effective strategies that will allow you to get time on your side so that you can become a counselor who is proactive rather than reactive. 

Make a list and check it twice

The first step towards utilizing your time more efficiently is to record the multitude of responsibilities you are tasked with on a daily basis so that you have a visual representation of what needs to be done.  It can be a pen and paper or digital version, whichever works for you. Take a look at this article that provides an explanation of the importance of list-making. 

I absolutely believe in the power of lists and put that into action each day before I leave my office.  It has proven to be a powerful tool that allows me to decompress before I head home to spend time with my family and also offers a sense of purpose and preparedness when I walk in to start my new day.

Prioritize

I read these statements in an article about keeping New Year’s resolutions and I couldn’t agree more. “ A person with priorities does what matters. A person without priorities does what is urgent. If you don’t have priorities, you’ll end up overbooked, overworked, and overwhelmed.

Take a look at your to-list, whether it’s a daily, monthly, or year-at-a-glance list. Order the items based upon the needs of your campus.  What needs to be done that day? What needs to be done within the week? What can wait for now and be revisited at a later time?

Create a Habit

Once you have decided what takes top priority you must pull out all the resources that will help you to work towards successful implementation.  Don’t reinvent the wheel, find something that has been created and proven effective to assist you in making an impact. For instance, if your goal is to amp up your anti-bullying program or find ways to increase positive student leadership you might reach out to experts like JC Pohl at TEEN TRUTH to assist you.  Utilize those pioneers that have gone before you to save valuable time and effort that could be better allocated elsewhere on campus.

As you complete a task, no matter how big or small, mark it off your list.  The action will create a feeling of accomplishment that will stimulate a response to work towards another goal.  Listen to this short clip from a motivational speech given by Admiral McRaven.  It brings home the idea that every task completed moves you in the right direction towards reaching a goal you have set for yourself.

Although the holidays are over and the presents have all been given and received, it’s not too late  to give yourself the gift of TIME. No matter what resolutions you have for 2019, finding ways to create more quality time for your students, your staff, or yourself will never be spent in vain. Apply the time you are given towards working smarter, not harder so that you can provide a well-balanced, comprehensive counseling program. So let’s toast to an upcoming semester filled with time, open-communication, achievement, and connections.

Happy New Year!!!  Feel free to use this free lesson on time management with your students.

Penny Knight
School Counselor, TEEN TRUTH

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