We, humans, love setting goals. The difficult thing is accomplishing them!
How often have you decided to reach for the stars, but got to the end of the year feeling a little run down, like you could have done more? While there’s no need to feel bad about it (we are constantly learning, developing and growing, even if we do not always realize it), there are always techniques to give a boost to your new year’s resolutions. Here are eight of our favorite tips to set and achieve your academic and learning goals this year.
1. Plan out your schedule for the year
Teachers typically have a lot on their plates, even before the new year starts. If you already know you will have certain obligations, responsibilities, events or chaotic months, block them on your schedule or journal. This will give you a visual idea of what months you’re likely to feel more relaxed or more stressed. Why is this important? Because you’ll have a much better idea of which months to focus on easier goals, and, conversely, which times to avoid putting extra pressure on yourself.
2. Write down everything
Before anything else, note down every single goal, resolution, or space for improvement that shows up in your mind—without censoring yourself. These could be:
- Improving language skills
- Learning more about a specific topic you’ve always been interested in
- Learning how to use a tool or technological device
- Improving your teaching abilities
- Getting certified
- Networking more often
- Creating more time for self-care
- …and so on.
Include all ideas, even if they seem too expensive or challenging.
3. Group your ideas into categories
Now, take that raw list of ideas and group them into categories; such as technology, language skills, social skills, health and wellbeing, teaching techniques, events, etc. This will give you a visual idea of which categories are lacking and may need more of your attention. This is also a good moment to signal those goals that are free or low-cost, as well as others that require few steps to accomplish (such as attending a one-time networking event).
4. Look at your history
Let’s start doing some objective work! Take a look at the past year and list your biggest accomplishments or challenges. Where or when did you make the most progress? What type of activities did you enjoy the most? Which ones ended up being a waste of time? Which activities, workshops, projects, or courses did you think would be useless, but ended up proving valuable? Getting answers to these questions will help you stay focused and know where to bet your energy.
5. Divide and conquer
Split large, abstract goals into smaller, more specific ones. There are two reasons why this is helpful. The first reason is that overwhelming goals suddenly become more digestible. The second is that some goals might look really easy to achieve, but once you break them down into smaller parts, you will truly see whether they are realistic or not. With this new information, you might choose to focus on this goal or invest your time in something more practical! Which leads us to…
6. Limit your choices
This doesn’t mean you have to give up certain goals or erase them from your list altogether. Rather, select, say, a maximum of three you want to accomplish in the next three months before moving on to others. This keeps your energy in check and allows you to stay on track. Plus, it’s extremely motivating to cross items off your list throughout the year.
7. Make it easier to succeed
We are easily distracted and are more likely to achieve our goals when our environment is designed to help us. Whether you keep tabs visible on your computer, organize your desk for certain items to be closer to you, keep a bottle of water by your desk to keep hydrated, sign up now for the workshop (rather than hope you’ll remember later), surround yourself with like-minded people, or automate processes to make your decisions easier—there are many ways to prepare today for what’s coming tomorrow.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If there is one reality in our digital world, it’s that someone has already done what you are trying to do. Whether you intend on getting a certificate, applying for a new teaching position, learning more about a specific tool, or improving your network, there are certainly people who are willing to help and answer your questions for free. Be proactive and start conversations. Join professional associations or LinkedIn groups to begin.