Promises, promises – Taking small steps may make a better 2017



By Monetta Harr – Exponent special writer

The gifts have been opened and either put away or returned. Cookies and candy are eaten. Almost all college football games have been decided.

There is only one thing left to do today: write down a list of resolutions to make yourself better in 2017.

“I always think about making New Year’s resolutions,” said Laura Gattshall, a seventh-grade teacher at Kidder Middle School in the Northwest School District.

But rather than set a specific set of resolutions – or goals – she likes a “softer” approach to life.

“I don’t want the pressure of meeting certain resolutions, so I prefer to make a mental list of important things I would like to accomplish,” said Gattshall.

For instance, she would like to do research on better apps for her classroom and come up with other teaching materials. But all this is very time consuming, so for Gattshall it is better to keep it in the back of her mind, collect information as the year unfolds and when there is time, actually sit down and organize what she has uncovered.

“I would never set a goal to lose weight. I would rather make a resolution to be healthier or to make sure my three-year-old daughter and I do physical activity each week. This kind of goal would make me feel a lot better about myself,” said Gattshall.


Laura Gattshall


Jack Christensen

Weight, money and relationships are tops on lists of resolutions, according to And every year, as millions of people make these promises to themselves, a great many of them are fired up for a week or two, then the excitement dwindles and routine settles in.

That’s why Jack Christensen of Jackson has decided to ditch the idea.

“When I was younger I made resolutions to lose weight, be more organized, get better grades in school, that kind of thing. But as I got older I realized I was making the same resolutions each year and my garage was still a mess,” said Christensen.

Margaret Realy of Pleasant Lake makes a list of 12 things she is going to change, one per month, and gradually makes the change as that month progresses. For instance, if she wants to add more Bible reading each day – her theme this year is improving her faith journey – she begins with 15 minutes and adds another 10 or 15 the following week, until she reaches her goal by the end of the month.

Last year she decided to quit allowing certain foods into her home and replaced them with better choices. For instance, last March she replaced buttered popcorn with raw pecans; regular cereal with an organic cereal; regular coffee with half regular, half decaffeinated. Some she simply eliminated in a month’s time including Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and M&M’s chocolate covered peanuts.

“With my personality, I can abstain better than I can moderate, so it’s easier to just not have them in the house. This is the fourth year I’ve done resolutions like this, one per month, and these small steps work for me,” said

Realy. “Instead of thinking ‘poor me’ or feeling overwhelmed with change, it becomes a positive and I realize how much better I feel about myself.”


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