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Out with the Old

What do you think of when you reflect on New Year’s? What is the feeling you get in January at the start of a new calendar year? New Year’s is a time to say good-bye to one year and welcome in a new year. Probably like no other time in recent history, there was a huge collective sigh in saying good-bye to 2020 and welcoming in 2021 with hope and eagerness for a better year.

January is a month associated with New Year’s Resolutions. Some of the most common resolutions center around weight loss and fitness. Other popular resolutions include self-improvement goals like getting organized, being more patient, learning a new skill, starting a new positive habit, or quitting a habit that is hindering your well-being.

Some years I set resolutions and other years I do not. But, for me, January has always been a month to get refocused! While much of our world has become automated and electronic, I still enjoy getting my new paper/physical calendar each year. It is with eagerness and anticipation that I go to the office supply store and look at all the eye-catching designs, consider the page layout options, and select my calendar for the year. Then, with child-like enthusiasm, I get my favorite colored pens and pencils and sit down to transfer important dates, activities, and even words of encouragement into my calendar. This small seemingly insignificant practice often helps me feel grounded, focused, and motivated to greet the new year.

What resolution or goal do you have for the new year? How might you usher in 2021

with renewed focus and motivation?

January is also a month associated with taking inventory. Businesses often take inventory around this time of year to see what products they have and what products they need to get rid of. In many ways, resolutions are a way that individuals take “inventory” of their own life and figure out what they want to invest in and what they want to leave behind.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been taking “inventory” of my own life. I have reflected on some accomplishments during 2020, some areas where I am anxious for change, and areas in my life where I need better boundaries and improved self-care practices.

Have you taken some time to reflect on your accomplishments? In a field that can be

stressful, demanding, and negatively impacted by vicarious trauma, how might you

add or elevate self-care practices?

As I have been reflecting, I realized that this month marks the beginning of my seventh year as the Executive Director of SSWAA. It does not seem possible! Yet, as I reflected and took “inventory” on my time in this role, I was able to celebrate some of the growth and positive change that has come about for our organization and can certainly identify other goals that I hope we can reach as an organization and profession.

In recent years, aside from setting resolutions, there has been a trend to select one word for the new year. Perhaps this has come about because much of the statistics indicate that most individuals do not stick with their New Year’s Resolutions for more than a couple of months. So, instead, some select one word. A quick google search will show you that there are websites and blogs focused on ideas and techniques for selecting the most impactful word for the new year. The word is personal to each individual and is a word chosen that will be their theme or a guide to their approach for the new year. SSWAA has a theme for this school year. It is more than one word, but it has definitely proven to be needed in this year of 2020 and into the new year of 2021. Beacon of Hope. This theme serves to guide our work with students, families, and school communities.

Do you have a goal for 2021? Do you have a word for 2021?

If so, join us on the SSWAA Facebook page today, Friday, January 8th, at 1:30pm Eastern. I’ll be sharing my word for the year! Come share your word or one of your goals for the new year with us and with your School Social Work colleagues! Wishing you the best in 2021. Happy New Year!


Rebecca K. Oliver is the Executive Director of the School Social Work Association of America. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, Mrs. Oliver served on the SSWAA Board of Directors and has over 20 years experience working as a school social worker. In her current role with SSWAA, Rebecca is able to support school social workers across the nation and advocate for the profession about which she is so passionate. When not working, Rebecca enjoys traveling with her husband Jon, singing, running, reading, doing home-improvements, and outdoor activities including walks with her two dogs, Abby & Buddy.

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