by Dr. Gladys I. Cruz
District Superintendent
Questar III

The start of a new calendar year is a time to reflect and look ahead – and an opportunity to make a promise to change or improve oneself. Have you done it yet?

Studies have shown that most people who set New Year’s goals fail to accomplish them. In fact, a 2016 study found that of the 41 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, only nine percent felt they were successful in keeping them.

While weight loss or fitness may be what first comes to mind, many resolutions are related to self-improvement or education. A report by sports platform Strava (using data from its nearly 100 million members) found there is a certain day on which people who made fitness resolutions are most likely to give up – January 17. With this date approaching in just a week, this is an opportune time to think about the sustainability of your efforts.

There are ways to try to make your resolutions more long-lasting. A book published in 1960 by Dr. Maxwell Maltz referenced 21 days as the time it takes to form a habit – something that people have since accepted as fact. Other studies have shown that this time varies, but on average it takes three times as long for someone to form a habit.

According to the National Institutes of Health, pleasure-based habits are particularly difficult to break because enjoyable behavior prompts your brain to release dopamine, which creates the craving to do it again. Several years ago, I committed to becoming more active on social media after reading a survey that found people trusted a company more if the CEO was actively engaged on social media. Ultimately, what helped me sustain this goal – after several failed attempts to do so – was writing it down, first as a message to my staff and later as regular planned events. Today, I continue to use social media to initiate and influence online conversations, and to strengthen the community around our region, Questar III BOCES and public education in general.

This year, I am committing in writing another goal – to continue my monthly column here to share public education items impacting our region. I will also address trends with a larger concern as I prepare to become president of The School Superintendents Association (AASA) in July, an association representing more than 13,000 superintendents across the country.

I am committed to another resolution in 2023 – to continue to advocate and develop programs that enhance learning opportunities for students across our region. Right now, Questar III is in discussions to expand programming for local high school students – something we will share in greater detail soon.

I encourage you to think big or to make a new beginning this month. There is no one-size-fits-all approach or timeframe. The most important thing is finding something that works best for you, not something expected by others. There are also other factors that can assist, such as setting specific smaller goals that align with your passion and larger interests, getting enough sleep, monitoring your progress, and learning from your experience and reframing as necessary. It is also important to have a support system as it is natural to lose motivation or feel pressure – a family member or friend can assist in making you accountable.

Best wishes on a New Year and setting goals that advance you personally or professionally. I look forward to sharing my resolutions with you over the next 12 months.

This column was published in the Register Star and The Daily Mail newspapers.

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