I love setting targets for myself. When I’m relaxed over a holiday or at the start of term, it’s great to think about what I would like my life to be. The challenge comes when I’m back into the thick of teaching, planning and marking and the targets I set have to take a back seat, sometimes even getting forgotten about completely.
Does this sound familiar? Don’t worry – here are some things that you can try to make those targets stick. Next time you think back you’ll see how far you’ve come – not how they got lost in a sea of other peoples’ priorities.
Break targets down
Don’t just write one thing on your targets list – for example, “write a book.” Break it down into small, achievable things you can do every day – “write 500 words a day”. I wrote about this a few months ago in my article ‘How to set personal, achievable targets’.
Record your targets
I don’t think targets even count unless they’re written down (if a tree falls in a forest…). This could be a note on your phone, a bit of paper stuck above your desk, or on one of those blank pages in the back of your diary – just something so that you can look back at them. I’ve suggested to more detailed ways to record targets in my article, ‘How to set personal, achievable targets’.
Set time for reflection
Target setting with the clear mind of the teacher on holiday is easy. But when you get into the mental treacle of midterm, keeping your targets can be much more difficult. I schedule a “Reflection Day” every three months on my Google calendar and post into the event the targets I set for myself. On this day, I look through each of the targets, reflect on what I’ve done so far and what I still have to do. This often takes less than an hour but is so important for keeping track.
Choose someone to ask you about the targets you’ve set on a regular basis. You could even set targets together so that you are holding each other accountable. Ask them to mention them every couple of weeks, just to check you’re still on track. If I could help you, give me a shout!
Only if you really want it
I’ve always wanted to learn to speak Spanish. For many years I’ve thought, “yeah maybe this year…” But I haven’t, because there’s no reason for me to do it and I don’t want it enough to do it for its own sake. If I was to set this as a target, I’d start off well, then in a couple of months I’d run out of steam because I don’t have the intrinsic desire to see it though. Think carefully, do you really want it? Are you prepared to put the work in? Because if you put a target down that you’re not dedicated to completing, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Give yourself some grace
Being a teacher is difficult anyway, without the extra pressure you’re putting on it by setting your own targets. You’re not going to meet them every day – and that’s totally fine. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you never have a break. Don’t feel bad for enjoying yourself – in fact, this should be one of your targets!
What are your targets for the new term?
How are you going to stick to them?