A Twist on Making Resolutions
By: Abby Twyman | December 28, 2019
As 2019 comes to a close, it's a good time to reflect upon the year. For the past four years, I've been doing something a little different. Rather than making New Year's Resolutions, I began a tradition of writing answers to the following questions in my journal for later reflection:
- What is your happiest memory from the past year?
- What is your saddest memory from the past year?
- When were you filled with the most peace last year?
- When were you filled with the most anger last year?
- What are you most excited for in the coming year?
It's been fascinating to reflect upon my answers to these questions year after year. I'm a firm believer that written expression is an important part of the change process, no matter what you're trying to accomplish, because it allows us to get our thoughts out on paper. Many times our thoughts become jumbled, so much so that often times we have difficulty answering even simple questions like: "Tell me something interesting about yourself." What I've found for myself is that when I take the time to write out my thoughts, it makes it easier to talk about them with others. And if there is one thing I've learned this past year, it's that effective communication is the key to success.
For the past three years, I've been on a sabbatical from practicing as a behavior analyst (BCBA). During this time I dedicated myself to studying advanced topics related the field of behavioral science, including Actively Caring for People (AC4P), Psychological Flexibility (PF), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Relational Frame Theory (RFT), Precision Teaching and Learning, Standard Celeration Charting (SCC), Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), Behavioral Systems Analysis (BSA), Performance Management (PM), Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS), substance and domestic abuse, criminal justice system, cannabis- and psychedelic-assisted therapy, community development, public school systems, implementation science, effective collaboration, person-centered planning, and building meaningful relationships.
While I would not consider myself a subject matter expert (SME) in all of these areas, what this breadth and depth of study have allowed me to do is develop a firm understanding of the direction in which I want to steer my life as a behavioral scientist. The value I believe I bring to the field is an ability to explain the science in a manner that is easily accessible to a general audience, and a passion for effective dissemination of the science to all of humankind in the service of creating a more peaceful world for all of Earth's inhabitants.
There are 3 days remaining in 2019, and I've been thinking a lot about what I'm most excited for in the year to come. Without a doubt, I'm most excited to see the growth and development of Action for a Peaceful World (AFPAW, pronounced /ah-fah-pwah/). Our vision is to create a network of behavioral scientists and behaviorally-trained friends dedicated to our mission of creating a more peaceful world through the effective dissemination of behavioral science.
This year I'm going to try a new set of questions to write about in my journal which I found in a blog post from Skip the Small Talk. Since I've been studying a lot about ACT and PF, I found these questions to be more thought-evoking than the originals.
- How am I different from who I was at the beginning of this year?
- How have my relationships with others evolved over the last year?
- What were some of my happiest moments of the last year? Can I notice any patterns or commonalities among those moments?
- What were some of my most painful moments of the last year? Can I notice any patterns or commonalities among those moments?
- What helped me cope during the challenging times over the last year?
- What helped me thrive over the last year?
- How can I be gentler, kinder, or more compassionate to myself this year?
- How can I be gentler, kinder, or more compassionate to others this year?
- How did I live consistently with my values over the last year?
- What is one tiny-as-possible, concrete change I’d like to make in 2019 that will help me live more consistently with my values?