If you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced the sudden burst of motivation that comes in early January, as holiday indulgences make their way to the waistline and New Year’s resolutions force a new look at the figure we see in the mirror. “This is the year,” so the resolution goes, “that I vow to lose ten pounds and keep it off.” Other common variations include goals to get back to one’s “true” weight, to fit into a smaller size, etc. And worthy resolutions they are. Sadly, New Year’s resolutions are notoriously short-lived, if not completely forgotten by February.
So, let’s talk about how we can make one big resolution for the New Year: How can you be more positive? How can you impact the children and families you serve? It’s easy to complain—everyone does it sometimes. But what if you don’t complain, or at least try not to? Being positive does not mean overlooking issues in your program that need addressing. It’s important to point out problems in a professional way and solve them as team. You might have said things like, “I don’t like the food” or “The paper towels aren’t very soft,” “The pay is low,” and “Some parents don’t appreciate us.” All of those statements may be true, but do they really matter? If they matter enough, work to change them.
It’s easier to have a good attitude when you direct attention away from yourself and focus on the needs of others. No more complaining or “poor me” attitudes allowed. You took a position in early childhood education to help young children, but contrary to what most people think, it’s not the responsibility of your employer or your supervisor or anyone else to make you happy –that’s your job. Your employers don’t owe you; you owe them. Now, don’t misunderstand, you should never be treated with disrespect or work in an environment that is physically or emotionally unsafe for the children or you. But we tend to focus on our own needs rather than the needs of others. Keep your focus on the children, and you’re likely to have a better attitude.
Now, let’s take this one more step. Not only are you going to be positive and professional, you are going to help others be positive and professional. When you hear someone say something negative, say something positive. I realize that being overtly positive might not be a part of your natural tendency or personality, and it takes you out of your comfort zone. Push yourself. Make being positive a habit.
I suggest a few more steps: Choose the right resolution, for the right reasons. Create a plan and stick to it. Stay on track. With a good plan, making significant progress toward your goal may require very little discipline and you can make great strides by following the original plan. My final piece of advice, remain flexible and keep on going! Build in flexibility into your expectations; we can simply adjust things as we go. Make the New Year a happy and productive one for your children, families and co-workers. On behalf of our 4C staff, we wish all of you a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2014.