Be specific, be flexible, and build good habits in 2017

Elizabeth Wright

Elizabeth is a Paralympic medalist, Author, Speaker, and co-founder of schools programme Resilience Wellbeing Success. Passionate about developing self-belief in our young people, Elizabeth uses storytelling and interactivity to build a rapport with young people, engaging them with a sense of fun and humour. Her aim is to leave young people believing in their own potential and capabilities to achieve their goals - if she could do it, then anyone can.

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Image Credit: Pexels // Donald Tong Image Credit: Pexels // Donald Tong

It’s the beginning of 2017, the holidays are over, hangovers have dissipated, and let me guess, you have about a hundred New Year’s Resolutions sitting in the back of your brain. Or better yet, you have them written down in your brand new diary, like talismans of success signposted for the near future… but we have to be honest here, how many of these resolutions are you realistically going to achieve? I’m trying not to be a Debby Downer here, cause I am all about goals and goal journeys, achievement and success, but when you really think about the resolutions you make, year in and year out, how many do you actually make happen?

For me resolutions are generally dreams about the day-to-day stuff: “This year I will lose a stone”, or “This is the year I will stop smoking/drinking/eating sugar”. How many of you have set goals like this? Being teachers/educators, your resolutions are probably more educationally inclined - “I will be more organised this year”, “In 2017 I will be more patient with my pupils”, “This is the year that I will get work and life balance right”. Usually within the first “Be flexible with these signposts.”few weeks of January you will have broken them already - perhaps little Chloe was not listening to you in class and you got frustrated and angry, maybe your plan to do a particular activity fell through because of disorganisation and you’re cranky with yourself, maybe that dream to get to the gym everyday after class, for better life balance, has already become a pipe dream. I am here to tell you, ditch your resolutions, it is time to get clear for 2017 on exactly what you want to achieve, and understand the steps you need to take to achieve these goals.

I want you to stop reading and close your eyes for a second, and imagine how you want your life, as a teacher, as a friend, as a family member, to be. Really feel what it would feel like to be living that life, and imagine that it isn’t too far in the future, in fact you’ll be starting to live that life by the end of the 2016/17 academic year. Write down specifics of this dream: “By the end of the academic year I will have systems in place that will help me be better organised and therefore calm”, “I will be working on my life balance on a day-to-day basis, ensuring I go to the gym at least three times a week, and that I go for short walks daily”. Really be specific about how you see yourself becoming that person, be realistic, and be hopeful as well. By being realistic and specific it means that on a day-to-day basis actually achieving these goals will seem a possibility.

Now that you have a specific and realistic goals in place, it is time to consider what actions “Ditch your resolutions, it is time to get clear for 2017.”you can take every single day that can start to make these goals a reality. What I suggest is you break out your work / personal diary and start to signpost your goal actions each and every day or week. Be flexible with these signposts, but by putting them in your diary you are making yourself accountable to them. One way of keeping a diary or keeping track of your goals is to use the bullet journaling system - it enables you to represent your goals for that week in creative and flexible ways, eg at the beginning of the week page write “3 Gym Sessions,” underneath draw three boxes and as you do a session throughout the week you can colour in a box. Another option is to write in specific days that you are going to take actions, whether that be for personal or work goals, eg on every Friday you write in your diary that you will clean the classroom and organise for the activities you have planned for the next week. In creating patterns, accountability, and focus, habits form that will take you closer to your goals.

As I sign off I have to mention procrastination and obstacles that could lead to perceived failure. I procrastinate and face obstacles - we all do, we are only human after all. So if you find that there are days and weeks where you feel too ‘lazy’ to take an action, or something crops up at school that means you can’t take the action you want to, please don’t worry, beat yourself with a metaphorical stick, or quit your goal. In fact, use the procrastination and obstacles as launching points to rebuild your focus and momentum. Acknowledge the hiccup and then keep on going - each moment, each hour, each day is new. We are not defined by the day before, we are defined by what we do right here, right now.

So here is to a Happy and Successful 2017!

How do you manage your goals? Let us know below!

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