Goal Setting

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 As the summer comes to an end for me, I begin to set goals for the year ahead. I know many people set New Years resolutions, me, I set mine in August. Being a teacher often means my new year begins in August not January. I’ve had the summer to relax and reflect on the past year. As I look back over the year, I think about what I accomplished, what I loved, and what I wish I had done better. By reflecting on these three things I’m then able to prepare for another year and set some goals. I know you might be thinking, wait, is this in your personal life or professional. It’s actually both.

Today I want to share why I set goals and what I do to effectively reach them. The first step truly is reflection. I believe it’s so important to be able to look at your strengths and weaknesses to discover the areas in life to improve. And that’s the number one reason why I set goals. To find areas where I can improve to be a better me! For me reflection means getting out my favorite journal and writing.  This is where I write out my thoughts, ideas, worries, and dreams. Some people enjoy this hobby, others process by sharing with a friend, or making lists. There is no right or wrong way to reflect, what’s essential is to take the time to get away from the day to day distractions and let your mind wonder back. You may even find it’s more helpful to go to lunch or coffee with a dear friend and share with them. I encourage you, no matter what, take the time to do this!

  Once I’ve taken the time for reflection I begin to mentally prepare for the coming year. I find I’m more energized, excited, and determined to do a few things better. To help me set my goals I think about two or three things that I want to be better with. For example, a few  years ago my goal was to leave every day from work with a clean desk. Now some days this didn’t happen, but the saying goes “it takes 28 days to develop a habit”.  I kept at my goal and today I am able to maintain a clean desk most of the time. And if it’s not clean, it drives me crazy until I stop everything and clean it off! I made my goal a habit and it paid off for me! So focus on two or three goals, put your effort into achieving them.

  Now notice the goal I set was small, simple, and do able. When setting goals consider how likely you are to truly accomplish that goal. Is the goal you’re setting simple enough to make a habit of it within 28 days. When setting yearly goals I often want to make a habit of something that I haven’t done well before in the past. This year, one of my goals is less is more. This is a personal and professional goal. I want to organize and have less stuff. For example, in my closet, the clothes are quite crowded. So I have a little basket inside my room for all those items I try on and immediately take off because there was just something about it that I didn’t like. Now some of these pieces have been in my closet for a few years, so I’m going to not feel guilty when I do this. Also in my classroom, I tend to hold onto more things than I need. I’m going to try and clean things out throughout the year to have less. 

  There are times that I want to accomplish a major life goal. When I decided to run a half marathon, I’m so thankful that there were running programs that helped me build up my stamina. I had to set small daily goals to help me accomplish my end goal. So if you’re wanting to set a goal that will be a major lifestyle change remember to reach the end goal you’ll need to set smaller goals along the way.

  I sometimes set unattainable goals, but instead of getting discouraged for not meeting the goal, I reflect and reevaluate. Sometimes the goal was huge, what I needed to do was set smaller goals that could help me reach the greater goal. Don’t get discouraged if this happens to you, it’s okay. The biggest way to stop working towards a goal is to give up all together.  When this happens, step back, reevaluate what it is you want to accomplish and reset the goal to be more attainable. 

  To recap setting goals keep these things in mind:

  1. Reflection is key 
  2. Set 2-3 goals to focus on
  3. Make simple attainable goals
  4. When setting major life goals think about making small goals along the way
  5. Don’t get discouraged, step back and reevaluate

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