21 Days to form new habits? Starting 2017 the way we mean to go on!

They say that it takes 21 days (based on what Maxwell Maltz suggested) to form new habits, though new research from UCL states that the new magic time period is 66 days, but either way, in the grand scheme of things, forming new habits does not take very long.

So, with this nugget of information, my goal is to form new habits (or continue old habits) but to purposefully stick with them until into the first week of March, to give them the best chance of becoming part of my routine.

Reflecting on 2016

2016 was a year of massive change.  Just look at the world of politics and…but we know all too well about these stories, we’ve all lived them, watched them on our television screens or heard them on the radio during our daily commutes.  Let’s not revisit these…let’s just pray that 2017 becomes a time of hope and peace…

For us in our school, this past year has had more change than any other previous years.  Most of these changes occurred as a result of the opportunity that ‘life without levels’ provided us with.  We are now teaching with ‘purpose’ – teaching for learning – adapting and planning according to daily assessments, teaching for what the pupils need.  Just this in itself has been the most massive shift in thinking for everyone.  Everything we have been moving towards has been questioned and researched to ensure that what we are doing is best for our children.  When things haven’t worked out, we try something new by reflecting, evaluating and adapting.  This is key to everything we do in school and already I know that this is something that needs to remain high priority as we move into 2017.

With all of these changes, I have been overtly aware and conscious of the workload that is added as a result of ‘change’ and while many of the changes in our policies and practice have been specifically designed to reduce workload, just ‘change’ in itself has caused more angst than I could have expected. This has been surprising and concerning as every decision we make, we consciously put the child at the heart while thinking about its impact on the wellbeing of all.

Major Lessons Learnt? That ‘change’, no matter what it is, even when it is to the benefit of all, causes people concern and worry, whether rightly or wrongly, and this must be considered and addressed.

Further, that no matter what,  always do what you know is right.  In education, this means that you will need to have heapings of bravery and courage.  You will be questioned, you will be judged, you will have people against you.  But, as I’ve always said, if children are at the heart of every decision, you cannot go far wrong.  Decisions may be challenged, but in the end they will reap dividends.

Personally, 2016 was a year of growth and progression.  I have been given so many opportunities this year for networking, being involved in research and sharing the journey our school has taken with others.

My family continues to grow closer each day, my daughter is a strong, resilient and wonderful young woman who amazes me with her attitude and spirit.  It is this mindset that I know will allow her to overcome any obstacle that comes her way.  My son, is a young gentleman, who always puts others before him.  His manners and ability to focus with such patience astounds me daily (an example of this was the hours it took him to finally crack the Rubik’s Cube…..months, days, hours….but he did it!).  I truly could not be blessed with more amazing children.  My husband, continues to support me with every new venture I set out on.  He is always the one to keep pushing me and giving me the confidence to continue to set and achieve new goals.  I absolutely could not do what I do without him behind me.

Moving into 2017 

“Enjoy the little things,for one day you many look back and realise they were the big things” ~Robert Brault~ quoted in: 

The Habits I Need to Form (In no particular order): 

  1. Always starting with the right attitude!  So, I just got feedback on this – when asked to describe me, most people would probably say that I was always smiling, enthusiastic and always up for a new challenge.  This is who I am and I truly believe that approaching life in this way always makes everything better.  It’s also being sure to stay focused on the positives when everything isn’t going your way.  As headteacher, it can sometimes be difficult  to offload – there are always situations you need to talk about, often these are situations you don’t want to discuss with other colleagues .  However, it is crucial to have someone else to talk to.  This is where the Twitter community has been amazing.  People like @@ottleyoconnor have coached me or offered advice on difficult issues that have arisen.  Being connected to so many people and different communities has provided  endless support and motivation.  Therefore, leading to:
  2. Connecting with others for support, coaching and laughter!  I have mentioned the reasons for this above, but this also means taking time out to connect with colleagues outside of school just for fun.  Two instances – I don’t dance, or didn’t think I did, until I was ‘forced’ onto the dance floor at the annual conference by another headteacher I work with in our partnership.  We ended up having a competition on who could achieve the most steps by the end of the night.  I then went out to dinner with this same headteacher just the other month and had a wonderful evening out.  She and I laughed and laughed – two hours later, we realised the wait staff were waiting for us to vacate our table!  Usually, I am so tired, that ‘going out’ is often viewed as a chore – but I realise that for my own wellbeing, it is necessary and so much fun!
  3. Switching Off.  As a family we already can be pretty good at this.  But, I want to focus on switching off all electronics in the evenings.  Coming home, putting the phone down and spending evenings with quality conversations, learning, reading, and old-fashioned fun. The same with the weekends – having specified ‘electronic’ time periods and using the rest of the time to spend ‘face to face’ with the family.
  4. Reading More. I don’t want to commit to the 52 book reading challenge, but hope that I will achieve it.  There are so many books that need reading!  Andy Cope @beingbrilliant introduced me to a new word: Tsundoko (Japanese): The constant act of buying books but never having time to read them – this year I hope to make the time.  A challenge I would love to be able to achieve is to read the entire Bible in a year.  I’ll let you know in next year’s blog how I got on with this!
  5.  Exercise and Healthy Eating. I didn’t limit myself to running this time.  Whatever it is, I just want to move.  Whether it be dancing, playing football, basketball, following along with @BettyRockerShow, (or running!) I just want to get my heart pumping on a ‘consistent’ basis.  This alongside a more ‘balanced’ diet – mainly eating at regular intervals during the day – not just when I get home.
  6. Taking time to be still.  I tend to rush around, moving from one thing to another in a whirlwind of activity until the evening when I finally get a moment to sit down.  Of course, what ends up happening, is I am then overwhelmed with exhaustion.  Some days, I go from meeting to meeting, lesson to lesson, and the list goes on, and I just don’t take a moment to breathe.  This is all down to me, I don’t make the time to pause and to just be still.  No one else is causing me to be like this, even in the flurry of activity that primary school brings with it, there should always be moments to reflect.  Therefore, I need to schedule meetings with time between them and at times that suit me.  I just need to slow down.
  7. Reflecting and Evaluating.  This brings me back to my checklist (which stemmed from my husband years ago) – but taking a few minutes every morning to write my checklist for my day.  Not doing this, has a noticeable effect.  At the end of each day, and at intervals throughout the day, then taking that ‘moment to be still’ to reflect and evaluate on priorities and ways forward.  This is essential.
  8. Enjoying Life’s ‘Little Things’ – Like the quote by Brault suggests above, I want to just enjoy the simple pleasures that life gives us every day.  We can’t slow life down, but we can make time to ‘enjoy’ life more.  We become so engrossed in ‘what’ we are doing, that we often don’t take time to look around us to #notice the details.
  9. Lead with Integrity, Honesty and Moral Purpose.  Finally, to always be a leader, both at home for my children and at work, who steadfastly models Christian values, integrity, honesty and a moral purpose.

Roll On, 2017!

#ShineOn!

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