Posts Tagged ‘goals’

2013 Goals – It’s all in the language

January 14, 2013

Popular targets people set for themselves are around what they want less of in the year ahead …

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  • I want to eat less chocolate
  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to be less stressed
  • I want less clutter
  • I want to work less evenings during the week

Have you ever found yourself phrasing your goals in terms of what you are trying to avoid, reduce or give up?

What we say to ourselves about the changes we want to make is crucial in achieving those changes.

When I was doing my coaching training, one thing I learned stuck in my mind … apparently the brain doesn’t process negative language the way we intend it to.

So for  “I want to eat less chocolate”, the brain doesn’t interpret that you want to reduce your chocolate intake, rather it focuses on “I want to eat ___ chocolate”.

Thinking about how I used to set goals it makes sense that this was happening with me on a conscious as well as a subconscious level. Whenever I thought about my goals I found myself reminded about what I was trying to avoid!

So focus on what you want, rather than on what you’re aiming to avoid – even if you start from the latter point, you can always re-word your goals to something more positive and achievable.

For example:

  • I want to eat fruit (or other healthier) snacks between meals
  • I want to be ___ kg (or stone/pounds!)
  • I want to have strategies I can use for stressful situations
  • I want to create a tidy home/work space
  • I want to have 3 evenings a week to spend with family/friends/chilling out

How have you worded your goals this year?

What do you want in 2013?

January 2, 2013

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As you look forward into 2013, allow yourself time to consider what you actually want. 

Give yourself a few days at least to think about what you achieved last year, what worked, what didn’t, and perhaps why … this will help with setting goals that are realistic.

Where to start?

3 possible starting points …

1. What things are important to you?

What do you want to ensure that you keep (or create) in your life?

2. Starting from “OK”

If everything’s OK but you want it to be better, take a more strategic approach and look at the different areas of your life.

For example:

  • family & friends
  • work / career
  • finances
  • personal development
  • relationships
  • environment
  • hobbies and interests
  • health & fitness

Review each area and give it a score out of 10 for how content you are. The lower scoring ones may point you towards areas where you want to create goals for 2013.

3. What are the main issues for you right now?

You may have some areas that are more pressing right now; things that you want to change as a matter of urgency (e.g. new job, saving money, spending more time with a family member)

And don’t forget …

  • Make sure your goals are what you want for yourself, not what someone else wants for you. Likewise, you can’t control others, so don’t set goals that are about someone else changing something, or behaving differently … it will be very difficult to ensure this goal is met! Instead, consider what changes you could make in this area to improve the situation.
  • Dare to dream a little! Someone challenged me to do this with regard to my business goals last year, and some of them came true 9 months early!
  • Send yourself a postcard!

More on goal-setting next week 🙂

How do you start the thinking process when setting yourself goals?

What’s your Personal Best?

September 17, 2012

Just over a week ago the closing ceremony for the Paralympics drew to a close what’s been an amazing run of success stories for athletes this summer from across the globe – both from the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Many world records were broken and many personal bests were achieved.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to achieve a Personal Best!

It could be argued that many of the 70,000 volunteers and Games Makers, who helped make both Olympics such a success, achieved ‘personal bests’ in the services they provided, such as the example of greater confidence in the previous link.

Personal bests can be achieved in a whole range of areas …

What’s the best conversation you’ve had with a colleague or friend?

What’s the best lesson you’ve taught or best bit of 1-1 tuition you’ve done?

What’s the best conference you’ve organised or meeting you’ve ever run?

What’s the best bit of mentoring or coaching you’ve done?

I’m sure you can think of other areas where you can recall your personal best.

So, why were they your best moments? How do you know – what’s your evidence?

One Head teacher I’ve worked with identified the following elements of a successful meeting with her SLT:

  • knowing what was to be achieved from the meeting
  • clarity and understanding of issues from all
  • enabling and facilitating everyone to have a voice
  • encouraging creativity
  • ensuring conclusions and next steps are identified by all (taking ownership)
  • identifying clear strategies for communication of outcomes to all staff

What would your’s be? 

Once you’ve considered personal bests in a range of areas, are there common strengths underlying each one? How can you replicate these common skills in other areas to achieve more personal bests?

The nature of personal bests mean that there’s always the potential to beat them, either by changing some equipment you are using or by changing / tweaking your actions.

What personal best will you achieve this week?

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An INSET day to get the year started

August 29, 2012

My memories of the 1st day back in September …

  • Quick catch-up with colleagues; sometimes relaxed, but usually more hurried than if we’d met during the holiday in school  … a general sense of purpose in the air
  • Whole school staff meeting; taking the form of a Welcome Back from the Head, welcome to any new staff, and a sharing of key diary dates & time tabling information … planned to be 1 hour, but usually ended up being 2!
  • Key Stage meeting; often included sharing some last minute planning, but usually relaxed
  • Individual time; prep time for all staff to put the finishing touches to their rooms / their planning / backing display boards / making resources, etc.

… Plus the photocopier would be working to capacity, and there’d usually be a queue!

In terms of a positive start, most staff would be upbeat about the term and about generally making a fresh start … “This year I’m going to do ‘X’ better!” Although this sometimes depended on which class you had, and whether a tight budget meant that class support would be thin on the ground.

If you’re a Head / School Leader / Principal, what would make that first INSET day a really positive start for your school?

Ideally, some time spent with all staff together is a good idea. But if this needs to be kept to an hour or two, how best could you use it?

Here are some thoughts …

  1. Use to re-group, welcome new staff, and remind staff of successes from last year and next step targets for this one
  2. Communicate changes in curriculum / leadership / key stage roles – so all staff are aware of roles and responsibilities of their colleagues. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked – either as it’s not felt to be important or it’s assumed people already have this information. The clearer staff are about each other’s responsibilities the less the opportunity for misunderstandings later along with wasted time spent sorting them out
  3. Remind staff of the school vision (unless you are using this INSET time to create the vision) and provide a few minutes for discussion in pairs on how their individual roles contribute to it. It’s a great way of getting that whole staff feel of “we’re in this together” from the start of the year.

So how will you be using your INSET day this autumn?

What needs to be included to ensure it’s a positive and productive start?

Photo credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.net and nokhoog_buchachon

Taking on a leadership role this autumn? (Part 1)

August 7, 2012

Whether you’re taking on a new curriculum area, a key stage responsibility, leading a specific project, becoming head of department, assistant head, deputy head, or head this autumn, you’ll no doubt have already started thinking about (if not planning too) what you’ll be doing.

So how will you ensure a successful start?

Whatever role you are taking on, there are 3 key things that I believe will help to ensure you make a successful start. This blog looks at the first one.

1. Clarity

Making a good start involves having clarity from the knowledge of what’s expected of you. The number of senior leaders I’ve worked with over the last few years who have had that clarity about their leadership role have been outweighed by those who haven’t. In the hussle and bussle of school life, where everyone has their own list of jobs, it’s easy to assume that colleagues and team members know exactly what is expected of them.

So, some key questions to consider …

  • How clear are you about your new role?
  • How clear are others about your role?
  • Do you have a job/role description?
  • If this is generic, where can you get further clarity about what is expected of you by all stakeholders?

If you have some flexibility with the role, and can mould or create it as you see fit,  identify what you want to achieve … for yourself, the year group, key stage, curriculum, the school … and set yourself some goals for the year. Then break these down into manageable chunks for each term. Ensure you are clear about what a successful year/term will involve.

  • What do you need to do?
  • What do you need others to do?

Linked to this is setting the success criteria. What will a successful start look, feel and sound like. Identify these from the start, then you know what you’re aiming for, and there is less chance for misunderstandings and disappointment further down the line.

Finally – being really clear about your leadership role will be time-saving in the long run. It will reduce the time spent re-doing things, smoothing over misunderstandings and spending time doing things you didn’t need to do in the first place!

Part 2 looks at communication. In the meantime I’d welcome your comments on this topic 🙂

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Motivate me! (Part 1)

January 28, 2012

Leaders beware … your staff may appear enthusiastic, driven and motivated, but is it just for show? Do your staff say what they think you want to hear, or are their responses an honest reflection of how motivated they are?

As a leader or manager it’s important to know how to motivate your team. A mistake some leaders can make is to assume, often subconsciously, that their staff will be motivated in the same way they are. After all, they all work for the same organisation and have a common goal, right? … Wrong. Having a common goal doesn’t mean each person’s motivation style will be the same.

In Staying Motivated I briefly introduced some of the different motivational styles, and discussed the towards and away from characteristics in some detail. For this blog (and Part 2) I’ll introduce a different style. But first ….. a question:

How do you know that you’ve done a good job?

It’s best to answer this question when thinking about a specific target you’ve set yourself at work, and how you’ve faired so far in your achievement of it.

Write down all your thoughts when considering your answer. Give as full and detailed an answer as you can.

In Part 2, I’ll discuss the outcomes of this little task, and the style of motivation it corresponds to.

In the meantime, feel free to share your responses to the question, in the comments section below!

(Photo: jscreationzs)

How often do you set exciting challenges for yourself?

October 3, 2011

During a recent walk through a nearby forest, which took in a Trim Trail, I came across this climbing wall. When I was young, I used to love climbing trees .. proper ‘tomboy’! As soon as I saw this I thought, “Now there’s a challenge! I’d love to have a go at that!”

Bearing in mind my tree-climbing days are well in the distant past, I think it’s fair to say I overestimated my ability to scale this wall. I think the idea is to get up to the top then down the other side …

… I managed to traverse across it from one side to the other! Nevertheless, the Outdoor Education lecturer at the Teacher Training college I attended would have been impressed … 3 points of contact on the wall at all times!

Even though I didn’t manage to achieve the full and proper use of this piece of equipment, I was very satisfied with my efforts 🙂 With a little practice (probably whilst no-one is looking!) I can see me getting over the top one day.

This was an exciting challenge rather than a daunting one. I was up for it and felt a great sense of achievement afterwards. Getting over the top will happen, it’s all about taking it one step (no pun intended!) at a time.

What kind of exciting challenges have you faced recently (both in your personal and working life)?

With these types of challenges, the excitement provides the added adrenalin which gets you through. For me, the motivation for doing this challenge came from the feeling I would get during and after it. Exciting challenges are perhaps those ones which are short-term, and ones where you’ll get a quick buzz from completing them.

Setting yourself exciting challenges on a regular basis does wonders for confidence and an overall sense of wellbeing. Daunting challenges have a different feel as you approach them. More on that topic in a different blog.

Reflecting back and moving forward

August 31, 2011

When I coach Head Teachers, the most common benefit they say they gain from coaching is “time and space to reflect”. As we come to the end of the school holidays and begin a new term, it’s time to start anew, a time for planning and moving forward. But how do you move forward without looking at what you’re moving forward from?

Reflecting back promotes healthy questionning:

  • What has gone well that needs to be maintained?
  • What could I / we do more of?
  • What needs to change?
  • How could I / we use our resources more effectively?

What other questions do you ask yourself? Perhaps you’ve already done your reflecting back. If so, what format did this take? Was it something you did sub-consciously, or with a more structured format (e.g. Performance Management / appraisal meetings)?

So, September is just around the corner; a time for setting new goals or targets, for new beginnings. Thorough and honest self-reflection will provide you with more relevant targets.

What new targets are you setting yourself for this autumn, and how do you know they’re the best ones?

Top 3 tips

1. Make sure there’s a solid reason for the target you set. Don’t just have a target for target’s sake. Ensure it has the capacity to move you / your team / your school forward.

2. Carefully consider the benefits from achieving the target.  Make a list of these and keep them in mind as you progress; they can keep you motivated and on track!

3. Establish an ongoing reflection strategy. Spend a few minutes each week to reflect on how you’re progressing towards your target. Adjust deadlines, resource requirements, expectations, depending on what your reflections tell you.

(Photo credit: sheelamohan)

A postcard from the future

March 9, 2011

If you were to send yourself a postcard from the future, say a year from now, what would you like it to say?

  • What will be different about you?
  • What will your business / career look like?
  • What will have changed about your daily routine?
  • What challenges have you overcome?

… And what does this tell you about what you need to do over the next 12 months?

Although you won’t know exactly where you’ll be, you may well have goals, plans, dreams, or desires; and this is a good starting point!

So imagine what you in a year will be doing, and consider what advice you’d give yourself to achieve what you’ve achieved.

Some examples …

Hi (your name),

Business is going great guns. My clients are loving my newly developed service! I’m much more confident about delivering seminars, and am excited about moving to new premises in 3 months.

My advice? Keep believing you can do it and continue to learn from those around you.

Dear _____

I’ve figured out how to deal with the communication issues at work! I’ve enlisted the help of an expert, who helped me identify why our current systems weren’t working. We now have really effective communication strategies in place, staff are much happier, and there are far fewer misunderstandings.

Advice? Don’t try to do it all yourself. You’re not Wonder Woman / Superman. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness! Learn from it and add it to your skill set.

Hi _____

Feeling much fitter and healthier, and enjoying a well deserved break! Changing my diet has given me a lot more energy, which means I’m much more productive both at home and work. It wasn’t easy, but having small targets spread out over the year was the key success factor.

My main piece of advice: Start making small changes now, and don’t be hard on yourself if you lapse occasionally. It’s all progress, and you’ll get there!

So what would your postcard say?


(Photo courtesy of Anankkml)

Celebrating achievements

February 28, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 28!!

We work hard, we have expectations of ourselves, we set ourselves targets and goals … but what happens when we achieve them?

Do we celebrate the achievements or ignore them?

Do we share the success with others or keep it to ourselves?

And does our ability to celebrate depend what the achievement is / how big it is?

Today I celebrate the end of my 28 Day Blog Challenge. As my reward, I have booked some time out to walk in Derbyshire. I am also sharing my success in this blog, as well as a blog to come (28 Day Blog Challenge Learnings). Nevertheless, experience has shown me that people I’ve worked with or coached spend less time celebrating success than they do thinking about what’s not gone well. Feelings of disappointment or general satisfaction of personal performance seem to far outweigh the joy of achievement.

Perhaps not everyone needs to feel good about their successes.

But what happens when the achievements are those of members of our team?

As team leaders, do we provide them with a quiet compliment, something more public, or does it go unnoticed? I appreciate that not everyone needs praise or recognition; and there’s not always time during busy working days to compliment colleagues on all their successes. So what’s the right balance?

This year I have been taking part in a business growth program, and the first part of our monthly meetings is sharing our business successes with other members of the group. This has proven to not only get the meetings off to a positive start, but kept us motivated (as well as accountable!)

So how often do you celebrate your achievements?


(Photos: balloons; jump for joy; fireworks)