And a Happy New Year
By Charles Sosnik
Now that the joyous holiday is over, whether for you that means Christmas or Hanukkah, we set our sites on the new year, and all that new year implies.
Personally, I am a huge fan of both Christmas and Hanukkah; I have ties to both. For Christians, when you strip away the veneer of Santa and the endless commercials of cars with giant bows, there is something so wonderfully satisfying in the traditions and family and, of course, the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. For those of you who know me, I am on the far side of 60, so I have had a good bit of practice celebrating. I cherish the family time most of all, and I love the gift-giving. And thank goodness for online shopping. Rather than spend days and days driving and parking and hoping that gift is in stock, I imagine that perfect gift in the hands of loved ones, point and click. So much fun. And custom made for old people with more money than mobility.
And I love the Christmas message. A person of divine birth born into this world to show us a loving way of living, and to forgive us of the bad stuff and pave a way for blissful eternal life. Love thy neighbor as thyself. That is a message that never gets old. And securing a place in the long game after this life is done. Count me in! Yep. I love everything about Christmas. And Hanukkah? I love it as well, but for different reasons.
Hanukkah celebrates a military victory that was so important, the actual survival of a people was at stake. And though it falls around Christmas time each year, that is where the similarities end. For Jews, it is a happy holiday, and one where the children receive gifts, yet it is not one of the most important. But because it falls at Christmas time, in this country the gift giving is magnified, probably in part so the Jewish children would not feel left out when the Christian children were getting so many wonderful gifts. Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days, to symbolize the “miracle” of a container of lamp oil that was enough for one day, but instead lasted for eight days, long enough to locate more oil so the lamp could stay lit for eternity. Of course, the real miracle was the Jewish people’s victory against their Greek overlords and the liberation of Jerusalem. In modern times, the holiday, much like most Jewish holidays, revolves around eating and fellowship. Or as my Uncle Jerry Sovelove once said, Hanukkah like all Jewish holidays can be summed up like this: “You messed with us. We won. Let’s eat!”
With all the fun and family and gifts firmly in the rearview, we set our sites on the New Year’s celebration and then on to the year itself.
Like many of you, I am a big fan of writing my goals for the new year. For the last 25 years or so, this has come to include not only my goals, but a plan or roadmap to get me there. As I age, I become much more diligent in this. Perhaps because as I get older, my memory becomes weaker. In fact, I have recently been diagnosed with CRS Syndrome (Can’t Remember Sh*t). They have a website, and it is a very worthy cause, although they do not do well financially. It is a membership organization, and unfortunately, we never remember to pay our dues.
But back to the goals. Traditionally, new year goals have been very personal. Lose 20 pounds. Start going to the gym. Be nicer to someone. Save money. Quit smoking. Spend more time with the spouse. And traditionally, many of these goals are not completed. Why? Because goals need to be specific. And thanks to my declining memory, I learned that goals should be written. And if possible, written with action steps and milestones along the way. That may sound like a lot of work. But if the goals are important to you, the extra work may be worth it.
I break my goals down into categories, and further into sub-categories. Imagine your goals are the navigation across the top of a website. The top navigation may be: Work, Health, Family, etc. And dropdowns allow you to make specific goals under these categories.
When you write out your goals, always assign a timeline to each one, say one year. You can then further break it down into quarters and months, and if you are feeling particularly froggy, weeks and even days for the really tough or complicated ones. Assign milestones to these. For example, if your goal is to lose 60 pounds this year, where do you think you could be after the first month? The first quarter? Constantly re-assess and rethink your action steps along the way. In the case of weight loss, your action steps may be an eating plan and an exercise regimen. For savings, it would look different. For business goals, different still. But the idea is the same in every case. A specific goal, a timeline, and action steps to get to each milestone along the timeline.
Try a few goals, but not too many. A good goal in your personal life, just like in your business life, should first and foremost, be attainable. It is not a realistic goal if you can’t figure out how to do it. Don’t be afraid to make it a little hard but be realistic with yourself. And if you screw up along the way, immediately re-assess. “Okay, this is where we are. What are the steps necessary to get to the next milestone? Is the next milestone doable?” If not, change it to something that is. And then begin to follow your new action steps. The secret to making your goals is to do it with your eyes open. Constantly look at your goals and imagine how it will feel to reach them. You may have to dial back a bit. In some cases, you may have to kick the goal line ahead because you are doing so well.
I like to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to write my goals and fill in the timelines and action steps. In essence, I plan out my year quarterly and monthly at the end of each previous year. Some people have told me that it seems a bit silly. But hey, it works for me. And it really seems to help to give myself some guidance and direction. It is comforting. And always, I retain the right to make any changes I want – you never know when opportunity (or life’s hard knocks) are going to change your direction. And in that case, take a moment to adjust your goals to match your new direction. And off you go.
As I bask in the afterglow of Christmas, my attention is firmly set on my goals for 2023. What kind of year will it be? What kind of year will I make it? What do I think I can accomplish? What is worth accomplishing?
Will I make a difference this year?
You bet I will. And here’s how I will do it.
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and (ET) Magazine. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.