A plan makes all the difference

Have you ever heard the saying a goal without a plan is just a wish?  I ran across it the other day when I was sorting through my social media feeds and it struck me that what many of us are guilty of doing is wishing instead of goal setting.  We talk lots about Habit 2 Begin with the end in mind, but I wonder if we do enough talking about how to plan for arriving at that end?  We discuss Habit 3 Putting first things first, but do our young people understand that you need to relentlessly focus on the most important things in order to accomplish a goal?

So, how do we encourage our students to set goals and create plans that will help them accomplish them?  Here are a few good places to start:

  • Be ambitious…but not too ambitious.  If I’ve never run a single mile in my life setting a goal to run a marathon might not be the first place to start.  There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but looking at feasible goals that will get you to something big is a good place to start.  If you want to work on reading 100 books in a year, perhaps the best place to start is to set a goal for the week.
  • Be specific.  When I speak to students who are sometimes struggling with their behavior they will often tell me that they want to have “a good day”.  While an admirable goal, simply being good isn’t specific enough to really create change.  In this case working on not shouting out, or staying in your seat, or keeping your hands to yourself is a more specific, manageable goal that will work towards the larger end result.  Working in smaller chunks can make an overwhelming task more attainable.
  • Find a way to hold yourself accountable besides simply setting the goal itself. I consider social media to be one of the biggest accountability systems available to people today.  If you want to be held accountable for a goal, post it for the world to see and let the masses motivate you 🙂  Our young people don’t have access to social media on that scale (yet!), but if we want to help children meet their goals we need to help them develop an accountability system that helps them understand that we are on their team and that while we can’t do the work for them, we can be their cheerleader along the way.

Goal setting doesn’t get any easier as you get older and the more I think about it, the more important the skill of setting goals and putting systems in place to attain them is truly becoming.  We talk lots about the gifts we hope to impart on our students while they are in elementary school, I believe helping them become autonomous learners and productive leaders are among them.

As we head into the fall holiday season I have my own goals that involve halloween candy and enjoying the outdoors as the temperature drops.  I welcome all of you to hold me accountable 🙂