Writing goals. Hmmmm. Mine? Um. Yes. Okay. Let me get some water. Oh, and the laundry needs to be put into the dryer. Oh, and I haven’t checked Twitter lately.
But there is one thing I am really really good at: reading. I can read when I am surrounded by noise and trouble, and inspite of any urgent chores that need attention. This proved fortuitous today, as it led me to an article in the NYTimes. It caught my attention right away: The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions. The subtitle is even better: Willpower is for chumps. To make a change, you don’t have to feel miserable.
Author David Desteno believes that the importance we place on self-control, willpower and grit in achieving goals is misplaced. And he suggests a better tool: our social emotions. By expressing gratitude and compassion we are naturally inclined to patience and perseverence. This is an interesting idea, and one I want to explore in my writing life.
I have had experience with this idea of gratitude as healer. About twelve years ago I went through an intense, year-long treatment for breast cancer. I was out of my mind with fear. One of the most effective practices I adopted was starting every day with a prayer of gratitude. I shut out the scary, noisy voices, and just gave thanks, and this gave me a path through each day.
What would that look like as part of my writing goals? How can expressing gratitude and compassion fit together with writing? One of the other recommendations he makes in the article is to “Take pride in the small achievements on the path to your goals.”
I have been thinking about writing about some of the cool things happening in my classroom lately. Notice I said: thinking about… I haven’t actually done any writing -- yet. These are moments where something goes incredibly well. It goes beyond pride. My heart is full. And I would love to write about it.
That sounds like a goal I can stick with.
Goal #1: Pay attention to what works in your classroom. Write about that everyday. Even just a little. It won’t matter, from general reflection to specific lesson that went well, it will count.
Cathy Skubik tweets @cskubik
And blogs (sometimes) at Trench Lessons: https://csskubik.wordpress.com/
And teaches fourth grade at Park Western Place Elementary in San Pedro, California