This time of year, as we usher in a new year, there is inevitably talk of New Year’s resolutions. I know there have been years that I have written resolutions because I believe there is power in writing things down. The whole idea of New Year’s resolutions has become kind of a joke to many people because of the speed with which resolutions are often broken. The whole concept of New Year’s resolutions can be questioned, I think. If change is needed, or worth doing, why do we need to wait for a certain day or a new year to tackle it? Shouldn’t we make it a daily commitment as soon as we can?

Another New Year’s phenomenon has been to identify a word for the year. Author Jon Gordon has popularized this approach, and I see value in it because in today’s fast-paced, complex world we often lack focus. My focus improved dramatically once I identified my “Big Rocks” years ago (Google “Big Rocks Illustration” and you will see how often this story about priority setting has been used). I often comment that my Big Rocks are faith, family, and work. These are the things that get my time and energy and guide my decisions.

I will continue to try to get my Big Rocks in first in 2017, but I also am going to take the one-word approach, and my word is resolute. Google’s dictionary defines resolute as “admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.” That is a great description of how I want to be. The next layer of that is to be resolute about the right things. Because I have my Big Rocks identified, those things are already determined for me. I feel the weight of responsibility as a school superintendent who needs to work to ensure the well-being and growth of our students and staff; as a husband, father, and grandfather who needs to love and support my family; and as a church elder who needs to be involved and supportive of the congregation and staff. I also want to add value to several boards I serve on and other groups I am a part of.

This past year has issued many reminders about how many people in the world, near and far, are suffering and struggling. 2016 has constantly reminded me of our mortality and reinforced the importance of doing something with our lives. In 2017 I intend to be resolute about caring about others. People we come into contact with every day need our love and support. This is true whether they are in the middle of a personal crisis or not. Life’s challenges become more manageable when we don’t have to face them alone and when we have a sense that we’re all in this together.

I don’t know what your view of New Year’s resolutions is, but a new year is a good time for us to reflect, take stock, and commit to what is most important. It probably hasn’t been lost on you that resolute is the root word of resolutions. I’m an old English teacher, so I appreciate things like that. When we set New Year’s resolutions, we are supposed to be resolute (i.e. “admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering). My hope for all of us this year is that we have things in our lives that are worth being resolute about, that we follow through, and that we help each other along the way. Have an outstanding 2017!