I need to feel that I’m committed to getting better. I need to feel that incremental improvements are not just good enough, they are my goal. I need to feel good about where I am now, and where I’m going.
A student hasn’t been applying themselves in class. They and their parents come to the parent teacher interview. The student, in that moment makes a choice:
“I’m going to work really hard in class, do all my homework and start studying early for my exam. I’m going to be a model student”.
The student feels good, they have a plan. The parents are appeased, the student has chosen to turn it around. The teacher rolls their eyes. You’ve heard this before.
This student isn’t lying to you. In that moment this student really wants to turn it around. But what they don’t realise is that turning it around doesn’t take one choice. It takes many choices. Made over a long period of time.
- Record their “big choice”, write it down somewhere. Even better, film them telling you about their big choice.
- Discuss how many “little choices” they are going to have to make in service of their big choice.
- Remind them of their little choices when they come into class each day. Or when they forget their homework that night. (I use a Microsoft form in my OneNote that students fill in each day with their intentions for the lesson)
- Keep a running tally of the choices they make. You could do it for them or they could do it themselves. Seeing these choices build up over the term makes it easier to see the end goal.
This reminds me James Clear’s discussion of making and breaking habits.
Rather than identify a lengthy list of goals or resolutions, I have, instead, chosen a word. Just one word.
My family and friends have a tradition of selecting a word to bring into the new year. Just one, single word. The word provides as a kind of ‘tincture’ to the year – its purpose being to regularly nudge you along a path of your choosing – a path that strengthens you in some way.
I have discussed my concern with goals elsewhere.
The first challenge of real life is: find some goals. And the second: figure out some boundaries.
Instead of thinking of mission statements as just a list of ideals, Covey suggests thinking of them like a constitution for a government. Back in my law school days when I wrote legal memos for attorneys, I’d have to lay out the law that governed the case I was writing about. Every time I did so, I had to make, at least in passing, a reference to the U.S. Constitution because the Constitution is the source of all law in the United States. Even if it was a state issue, I referenced the U.S. Constitution (Article 10, baby). With every legal decision, I turned to the Constitution first.
They map out three steps to creating your own mission statements:
- Step 1: Block off uninterrupted time
- Step 2: Prioritize your roles in life
- Step 3: Define the purpose of each role
The authors explain that this is about process as much as it is about product. For me it is about intent.
This is a useful resource alongside Adrian Camm’s steps to developing a learning vision.
The last step doesn’t matter as much as you think. It is not about the summit.
Recently I shared a professional opportunity with a friend and their response; “You’ve got this!” Three simple words that meant so much. Someone believes that I have the ability and skills to achieve this, and that I am qualified and experienced to be successful. I said it out loud, ‘You’ve got this!’ Then the self talk came into play. You know what?….I have. “I’ve got this!”
So maybe I’ll focus, instead, on Go Up goals and Give Up goals. Like Seth says in his post, people are generally happy to help you with your give up goals. They’ll remind you to drink less, exercise more, and spend less money. My 2018 give up goals might include be less lazy on the exercise front and eat fewer carbs for breakfast. I’ll try to give up working on a device when my kids are present. I’ll fail, but I’ll try. I’ll give up taking jobs that don’t compensate my worth.
I have begun to pare back my obligations. I have turned my email and social media notifications off and buried Facebook in the back of my phone. I’ve withdrawn from my Book Club. I’m reconsidering how often to post on this blog and am thinking perhaps ‘when it takes my fancy’ would be ok, rather than keeping myself to a schedule. I am figuring out how to protect my most productive time for my most important projects and how I might schedule in regular silence and stillness.
I’d been struggling myself a bit with this re-read and Frankl’s emphasis on the future, how one must keep hope, keep his eye on the horizon. (Though I was particularly taken with his emphasis on imagination: how prisoners hold on by conjuring images of their loved ones, how a patient can sort out her decisions by pretending she’s lying on her death bed, looking back at her life.) I wondered how to reconcile Frank’s hopeful future-facing with my own feeling that life is more like Groundhog Day, and one should operate without hope and without despair.
A goal that isn’t too important makes you live in the moment, and still gives you a driving force. This driving force is a way to get around the fact that we will all die and there is no real point to life.
But with the ASG there is a point. It is not such an important point that you postpone joy to achieve it. It is just a decoy point that keeps you bobbing along, allowing you to find ecstacy in the small things, the unexpected, and the everyday.
What happens when you reach the stupid goal? Then what? You just find a new ASG.
Tamara Shopsin Arbitrary Stupid Goal
via Austin Kleon
In regards to your point about ‘yearly’ reviews, I added to my yearly review of newsletter posts to also include a personal reflection.
I still think that I need to develop this and that is why I chose ‘intent‘ as my one word this year (another alternative to new year resolutions)
I will have to look through the various links for more tips and get back to your discussion of routine and maintaining a positive mindset. The
More than just SMART, the purpose of goals are to provide focus. A useful guide is the How Might We question, as it incorporate the what, the when and who in a succinct manner. In addition to this, I have found the Modern Learning Canvas useful in regards identifying particular points of innovation.
This is something Vivian Robinson touches on in Student-Centred Leadership:
When goals involve new challenges, how can you possibly know if it is achievable, if it is realistic, and how long it will take you to achieve it? In the absence of such knowledge, it may be better to set a learning goal or a broader performance goal that expresses your shared commitments and helps keep you focused.
The problem in a world driven by data and accountability, we are often uncomfortable with embracing the wicked and fussyness of the unknown.