Focusing on a Word in 2024: Resilient

Happy New Year! We needed to let the holidays settle and give everyone time to get their bearings this year before tackling a look ahead. Although we often try to get those important resolutions made before January 1, sometimes there’s more clarity after we’ve recovered from the busy holiday season.

But now it’s time to look ahead.

Some of us make resolutions. Fewer of us keep those resolutions. Some of us choose a Word of the Year (WOTY). Some of us hope for the best, and some of us just move ahead – perhaps feeling the optimism of a fresh start or just continuing as usual. How we deal with the close of one year and the opening of another is a very personal choice.

Here at College Parent Central we’ve taken different approaches over the years (and yes, there have been a lot of years by now.) In the past we’ve offered some resolution suggestions for college parents and students. We’ve offered some suggestions for high school parents and students. We’ve thought about what makes a good resolution.  We’ve suggested activities for the new yearpeople to thank, and even offered a few “one-and-done” resolutions. Two years ago we suggested some options for the WOTY approach. Last year we narrowed that down to suggest a particular word – power. That word is still an apt one and we explained many reasons why in last year’s article. Whether or not you decide to choose a word, we highly recommend going back and reading about power as you and your student look ahead to the new year.

This year, we’re going to continue with the Word of the Year approach because it makes sense. Besides, it’s easier to hang on to a single word than to remember (and live up to) a string of resolutions!

The idea behind a Word of the Year

First, in case you’re not familiar with the WOTY, here’s how it works.

You choose a word and use it to help you focus and visualize a feeling, aspiration, or theme, (not a specific goal) and to provide motivation and help you channel your energy and resources throughout the year. For many people this approach is more helpful than making several resolutions that may not last more than a few weeks. If you’ve ever found yourself in February with a list of stale resolutions, you know it can happen.

Because your word of the year is so personal, it is difficult to suggest a word to someone else, but we’re taking a leap this year. Don’t limit yourself to our word, but take a moment to read on and think about why this word might be important for your student this year (and for you as well.)

This year’s word? RESILENT.

Here’s how we got here – and why.

In several of our podcast episodes this year, Lynn and Vicki talked about what we’re seeing in our students post-Covid. Students seem more anxious and have more trouble focusing and connecting with others. We’ve also seen more and more students who seem unable to handle stress and have a hard time bouncing back when they face difficulties or challenges.

Bouncing back. According to the dictionary, resilience is the ability to “spring back, to rebound.” It’s just what many students need. Being resilient isn’t going to minimize the challenges or the setbacks, but it will help students face them, deal with them, and perhaps become stronger because of them. Being resilient means being able to adapt and to tackle the obstacles that students confront every day – big and small.

Whether your student’s obstacles are athletic failures, admission denials, friendship disappointments, academic failure or poor grades, knowing you can deal with them and continue on is essential to success – academic, social, emotional, mental. As a parent, knowing your student is capable of bouncing back can provide some peace of mind.

Like last year’s suggestion of the word POWER, resilience is a state of mind or attitude. It’s knowing that you can meet challenges, that you are able to overcome them, and that, while you may not always be able to control what happens, you can control how you respond to it. As a Word of the Year, RESILIENT reminds your student that they are “able.”

Choosing your WOTY matters

As we suggested at the beginning, choosing a word for the year may not be for everyone, and choosing your word is very personal. Your student may roll their eyes, or may choose another word – and may even choose not to share it. But the process – and the conversations that may develop – are what matters. Whether or not it becomes a WOTY, talk to your student about resilience. Help them think about how they can build that muscle and how they will handle whatever comes along.

If your student chooses a word – suggest they write it down. Post it. Make a screensaver of it. Carry it with them and look at it every day (OK, at least occasionally.) Own it and live into it.

And don’t forget to think about your Word of the Year as well. What focus or value do you want to lift up in your approach to the new year? (If you’re willing, share your word in the comments below. We can all learn from each other.)

Here’s to a resilient 2024 for all of us!

Happy New Year!

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