Glass Half Full: Setting goals, not resolutions, for 2017 |

Glass Half Full: Setting goals, not resolutions, for 2017

Out with the old; in with the new, right? As if such a thing were entirely possible, we embark each January with a sense of a brand new journey ahead of us. Perhaps that is possible, insofar as we are willing and able to take ownership of our own actions.

“Putting away Christmas,” is what I call it when we pack decorations back into boxes for storage and cart the lovely tree that served us so well for recycling. Things come out on December 1 and are returned on January 1.

When the floor is cleared of detritus, and the space where the tree stood reopens a whole “new” space, it adds to the resolve for charting a course for the new year.

Can we really put away 2016? A year that ended with so much acrimony among so many and so much fear expressed for the unknown should reminds us that it is up to each of us to change that tone, to reassure those we know who are fearful.

At Lake Tahoe School, we tell our students that they don’t have to like everyone, but they do have to treat everyone with respect and kindness.

They can’t say, “You can’t play!” Are they always successful? Absolutely not; they are children. So it is up to us to keep reminding them and, more importantly, keep showing them how positive interactions are possible.

We tell them that taking care of themselves includes making healthy choices, including finding ways to avoid stressful situations and time for exercise. We talk about managing our own anger when provoked, about choosing our words carefully when we disagree with someone else.

I’m not keen on New Year’s Resolutions, recognizing that there frequently is something innately breakable about them. Perhaps inexplicably, I prefer setting goals.

In my mind, goals can be more general and often build on something already in motion. The notion of an ever-improving Personal Best gives me more hope (and motivation) than resolutions. So, for 2017, keeping in mind what I tell my students, my goals include:

Always listening to The Other Side of the Story (which sometimes means listening to several sides)

Appreciating differences as well as similarities. I prefer bouquets of mixed flowers more than a single variety of flower. The same with people.

Watching my language. I note, with some chagrin, that when I allow myself to let loose with a particularly expressive epithet, it tends to make me angrier, rather than lessening same

Regularly exploring the beauty of our surroundings on foot, ski, paddle, bike, boat, whatever is available.

I remind myself that those Christmas decorations, those reminders of years distantly past and just a few days ago, aren’t really gone. Bygone years will always be a part of my history and help shape the year ahead.

I can choose to throw out things that provoke painful memories. I can also choose to focus on the ones that spark delight. I invite you to do the same.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at

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