By Jenni Chadick, Assistant Director of Residence Life
Ah, a new year has begun again. With any new year, many of us make resolutions – resolutions to eat better, get exercise, sleep more, laugh more, study harder, find our inner zen, etc. As I was catching up on my favorite higher ed blogs this winter break, I stumbled upon the idea of a one word resolution. As someone who generally does not make resolutions (because I’m always trying to eat better, exercise more, sleep more, etc.) this idea really struck me. One word is easy to remember, and can be powerful. And one word can sum up a year, just as much as set the tone.
The idea of a one word resolution is less resolution and more intention. What do you hope to look back on 2014 and remember? Becca Obergefell (whose blog introduced me to this concept) has a beautiful post on her one word: Joy. In her post, she recounts the moments of joy from 2013, moments that she captured in her memory and wrote down in a joy jar. What a beautiful idea! Through the moments that brought her joy in 2013, she looks toward 2014 with a sense of gratitude and fullness. What a juxtaposition to the filling of “less-than” and defeat that many of us have facing yet another year trying to meet ambiguous goals.
The beauty of the one word resolution is its focus on who you want to be, rather than what you want to do. What you do to get there will depend on the day, the people around you, the life happening around you. One of my favorite sessions I lead with students is a core values exercise, which asks students to narrow down from a long list of values – love, faith, courage, family, etc. I think there is parity in this exercise for a one-word resolution. A core value is something that guides your everyday actions, but it is not a prescription. Oftentimes our goals, our values, our resolutions can be in competition with one another (Spend time with friends or go on that run? Stay true to my faith or lose an important connection to a family member?). There are not right or easy roads in these conflicts, but the practice and intent of keeping one concept at the forefront of a year helps exercise that muscle. Only with practice do we become better able to live a life congruent, on a daily basis, to our values.
Not only do I have a one word resolution for 2014 for myself personally, I think this is a great idea for a team to employ. Think of it as the “next step” of stop-start-continue. Where do we, as a team, want to be at the end of another year? As a department, what will drive us forward, and push us to reaching new heights? For Residence Life, I think our one word could easily be many things: progress, growth, sustainability, passion. Coming off the heels of an all-day retreat there is one word though that rises to the forefront: Communicate. Communication between team members, communicating what we are to our residents, how we communicate the value of a residential experience, how we celebrate one another and communicate where we need to grow. This blog is just one element of this idea of communication. Residence Life has undergone some significant changes in the past year and half, and we are only beginning to recognize how important it is to communicate these changes (and what they mean) to all our constituents – from parents to alumni.
What is your one-word resolution for 2014?