Photo of note pad on table with the words - New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions?


Noun. A firm decision to do or not to do something.

It’s January, 2016. Have you made any resolutions for the new year?

January is the first month, the beginning of a new year. It's a time of beginnings and promise. We reflect on the past and desire to ring in the new. We may desire a new body, a new job, or decide to reinvent ourselves in some other way. The act of making resolutions can feel exciting and inspiring, but also stressful depending on the kinds and amounts of resolutions made. For those of us with dyslexia/LD, the idea of adding anything else to our plates in addition to our own daily routines and challenges can be kind of daunting!

Studies have shown that less than 10% keep their resolutions. Why is this? Perhaps we make too many, we reach too high, we make resolutions based on what someone else is doing or what we think we should be doing. Perhaps the resolution isn’t a good fit or true to who we are inside. We might make them for the wrong reasons and destine ourselves to failure. Perhaps we become impatient and expect results too quickly. Lasting change takes time and can’t be expected overnight. So, before you consider jumping on the path to self-improvement in the new year, remember this. Do one thing. Just one thing. You don’t have to complicate it. Don't know where to start? Here are some suggestions...

Exercise? Just do it. Get off the couch. Go take a walk. It doesn’t have to be a full-year gym membership with all the bells and whistles. How about a free-trial week? Get your foot in the door. See if it’s a good fit. Take a friend or family member with you!

Do you want to nurture your Relationships? In a 75 year Harvard study, Robert Waldinger found that the quality of our relationships have more far reaching positive effects on our health and happiness than status, money or other external things. – Check out Waldinger’s Ted Talk HERE. Now, that’s an idea worth spreading!

How about health and diet changes? If you are in need of a physical and have been putting it off, go ahead and schedule one. It’s one positive thing that you can do. Are you considering a change in your diet? Before you go vegan or gluten-free, ask yourself why the diet appeals to you and do some research online on the best ways to start the process which won’t turn you and your kitchen upside down. Wanting to shed some pounds? Are you overeating? Get in touch with why you might be. Too much stress, feeling unfulfilled, feeling exhausted and run down? Exploring your patterns and speaking with a health professional may give you valuable clues to what’s “eating you” and may also help you to search for alternative ways to address your negative of patterns of behavior surrounding food. Blood work and other routine lab tests may indicate hidden medical conditions which need attention to get you back on track and feeling your best.

Interested in body and mind stress reduction? Consider booking a massage, trying a free yoga or meditation class or exploring other methods of allieviating stress. When you decrease your stress level you will feel better both physically and emotionally, may learn better and function more effectively at work and in relationships. Try this guided meditation from The Art of Living - http://www.artofliving.org/meditation/guided-meditation

Interested in learning about and finding solutions which can help you with reading, writing and productivity? Check out some of the latest assistive technology apps, software options, and tools to help you thrive from Jamie Martin's website, http://www.atdyslexia.com/assistive-technology/.

If you are considering making a resolution related to your job and career, small steps can reap big rewards. Be proactive. Learn something new everyday. Here is a short list of some low or no cost suggestions for learning and career self-improvement for the new year:

Making new resolutions can help you to get out of your comfort zone. Do something that you have thought about trying but haven't done so because you feel lack the necessary skills. This could be just about anything. Do a Google search, watch some videos, challenge yourself. There are many benefits to having a bit of positive anxiety from getting out of your comfort zone, including harnessing creativity, developing resilience, and increasing productivity. Read more on this from Life Hacker - HERE. You might just surprise yourself.

Are you searching for a purpose? Consider volunteerism. It’s good for the soul! Explore local opportunities with non-profits in your area. In addition to helping others, volunteering can help you learn new skills to help populate your resume if you are in the market for a career change. Volunteer Match can give you some suggestions of organizations in your area. https://www.volunteermatch.org/

You may encounter eventual roadblocks or detours along the way as you explore new things, and this is totally OK. Don’t beat yourself up about it. If something speaks to you strongly, you may revisit it at a later time. Trying new things opens up a world of opportunity. The most important thing you can do is to approach the new year in a positive way, setting small easily achievable goals for yourself, not worrying about the past, but looking forward to what your future holds. One new thing. One day at a time. Stretch yourself! Wishing you a new year filled with lots of exciting things.

Robert Waldinger Ted Talk - http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness

The Science of Breaking out of your Comfort Zone – And why you should - http://lifehacker.com/the-science-of-breaking-out-of-your-comfort-zone-and-w-656426705

Headstrong Nation Mission Statement - Headstrong Nation is a movement dedicated to a radical new approach to dyslexia. We empower adult dyslexics to own their dyslexia, to understand it, and to develop new ways of learning and working based on their individual profiles.

We would like to invite you to donate to Headstrong Nation, as we need your support to help us to fulfill our mission for the adult dyslexic. DONATE HERE

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thank you very much! - The Headstrong Nation Team

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A Vision for Headstrong Nation - Thoughts from Larry Banks

Larry Banks is Headstrong Nation's Board Chairman. He has a passion for the organization and for his fellow dyslexics. Larry shares his vision of Headstrong Nation below.

"We are reinventing Headstrong Nation as an internationally known strong voice for adult dyslexics. Dyslexia is a lifelong profile that does not end with graduation. Dyslexic children grow up to be dyslexic adults, and although many of us have managed our profiles and have become successful in the eyes of society, many more of us are struggling, under-appreciated, full of shame and self-recrimination for having intelligence which is obscured by reading or attention issues that are misunderstood.

In children, this neurological difference is exacerbated by the conditions within schools that have the tendency to only recognize one form of intelligence. As these children get older they learn to avoid situations which might expose their differences. When we feel ashamed, much of our energy goes towards hiding and avoiding notice.

Headstrong Nation wishes to be a lighthouse, a beacon that can be seen from anywhere to offer shelter, community, acknowledgment, acceptance, and support. We have gone through the most difficult part of our lives. Now it is time to develop our strengths, come out of hiding, and express our unique profiles. For some, this will be big and for others this will be small. It begins with self-acceptance and the release of shame for being different, and of being able to move beyond the prejudices and pain from being labeled stupid. Together, we can become a counteractive force within society.

Headstrong Nation is here to serve as an oasis, a developing community which offers a virtual space that adult dyslexics can call home, and as an active orientation to help young adults within our community find their way and develop their true voice."

Larry Banks - dyslexia. #WeOwnIt

Headstrong Nation is a movement dedicated to a radical new approach to dyslexia. We empower adult dyslexics to own their dyslexia, to understand it, and to develop new ways of learning and working based on their individual profiles. - Headstrong Nation Mission Statement - June, 2015

If you'd like to help support us in fulfilling our mission for the adult dyslexic, please consider becoming a member of Headstrong Nation. You may sign up here to be included in our #WeOwnIt campaign mailing.(Note: 4/29/16 - Campaign has ended but donations are needed to support our work. You may donate at our RAZOO PAGE HERE:https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Headstrong-Nation After signing up, please take a moment to spread the word to your family and friends via social media using the tag #WeOwnIt. Thank you! - The Headstrong Nation Team

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Headstrong is a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation, and is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax ID 47-0925290.

math test with red F

Failure and the growth mindset - It’s OK to Fail...Really!

I’m my own worst enemy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to fail. Don’t like to be revealed. It’s like hanging dirty laundry out for others to see. But I fail daily and so often that I now realize that my failures are part of who I am, my individual learning curve. I know that it’s important to accept the fact that I will fail, and to learn from these failures and move forward. If I don’t, the feelings of anxiety and shame associated with my failures, whether large or small, will begin to consume me and erode my self-confidence. These negative feelings and scripts are of no benefit to me, and it’s up to me to meet them head on, and change the messages that I give to myself.

I’ve read many articles on the value of failure as related to learning and growth in an individual. No one likes to fail, but some of us will fail more often than others. Dyslexics often experience their fair share of failures in the classroom, and in the workplace. The types of messages that we give to ourselves after we've failed at a given task will determine our desire to keep going or to quit, These scripts, if negative, will remain with us and will affect how we view ourselves, how we interact with others, and will influence the future goals we set (or do not set) for ourselves. This type of self-talk is limiting.

Why are some dyslexics more successful than others? Might it be that those who are successful see their failures and setbacks as opportunities for change and growth? How about those dyslexics who do not feel they have reached the level of success that they desire? Can these individuals change the messages that they give themselves when they fail, and in turn, experience positive growth and future success?

Let’s also consider the individual who generally performs above average and is constantly given the message by others that he is gifted or smart, academically or otherwise. Do these “positive” messages foster growth in this individual, or might they cause this person to hit a wall when he encounters a problem that he cannot solve? Will he avoid future problems or tasks that he cannot easily solve or complete? Will he only work at a comfortable level, play it safe, and not take any risks that could lead to greater success for himself?

The work of Carol Dweck has helped me to see the value in making mistakes. It’s o.k. to fail. Really! It’s how I will grow. But what I say to myself when I fail is equally important. My “self-talk” affects my motivation and desire to keep moving forward. Carol Dweck, Ph.D is a leading researcher in the field of motivation and a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She is the author of the bestselling book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. Below is a You Tube video of Carol at Talks at Google discussing the growth Mindset:

I was first introduced to Dweck's work while taking a free online MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through Stanford University taught by Jo Boaler, Ph.D Professor of Mathematics Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. As a child and later as an adult, I was one of those people who would describe herself as "Stupid in Math". I felt that I would never be able to master mathematical concepts, and it was by necessity that I explored Boaler’s course “How to Learn Math for Teachers and Adults”. I needed to help my son learn 5th grade Mathematics. I realized I had “hit the wall” with my less than desirable, Subpar math skills and was unable to fully assist him in his daily work. Boaler's course helped me to challenge the stereotypes I had about myself as a woman learning math, and her subsequent course for students helped my young son to learn the value of perservering through tough open ended math problems. Boaler's work involves teaching with a growth mindset in mind. Boaler promotes mathematics education reform in schools and challenges the myths and stereotypes surrounding learning mathematics. You can read more about Jo and her courses here at her site, www.joboaler.com.

So what does it mean to posess a growth mindset? – According to Mindset Works, of which Carol Dweck is co-founder, the growth mindset focuses more on individual improvement and less on worrying how smart one is. The big idea is in understanding that intelligence can be developed with hard work and persistence, that it is not fixed. Students who can foster this mindset in themselves show greater motivation in school, and have better academic outcomes.

We can all learn from our failures, and it is important for all of us to challenge how we view ourselves as learners. As we age, many of us get more rigid in our thinking. Young children can often serve as guides because they are learning and making new mistakes daily. Developing a growth mindset is knowing that learning is not just about producing the right answers all the time. It’s about giving yourself permission to improve constantly, to make the effort, to think outside of the box, to create, innovate, and to stretch your brain and grow.

I often need to catch myself in interactions with my young son, as I begin to tell him the “right” way he should be doing things. In many instances, there are many “right ways” to approach problems. As a parent, it is important for me to get out of his way and let him explore and find his own answers and praise him for the hard work and effort he's making. For myself, it’s equally important to get out of my own way, to keep an open mind and let myself search for new ways to do things. If I fail, instead of making the typical statement, “I can’t do this”, a growth mindset statement would be “I can’t do this….yet.” That’s empowering, and indicates there is always room for improvement with persistence. Tieing praise to effort, hard work and persistence, not to intelligence, is what will ultimately keep us moving us forward.

The bottom line? Let's learn from our failures and let them guide us. Let's confront our fears and go beyond them. Let' get unstuck. Let's try something new. We can all improve and make progress. For example, I'm learning how to write code. I have no experience with it, and would never have entertained the thought to try it before. but I'm taking a chance on myself. I struggle with it daily, but I am making slow improvement and my brain is making new connections I never thought possible. "I can't do it", becomes "I can't do it.... yet."

What’s between our ears can make or break us, and we have the power to change the tape, and change the path, one encouraging word at a time, for ourselves and those whom we love, by working on developing a growth mindset. Failure leaves us open for new opportunities, and new directions.

Read 10 top quotes on failure from one very successful dyslexic entrepreneur, Richard Branson HERE

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