Today is my 60th birthday. For many reasons, it is special. Family has traveled to be with me for the weekend. I feel so fortunate with a strong family, amazing friends, good health, interesting opportunities and beautiful places to live and visit. A year ago, I made a commitment to myself to spend the year doing sixty things that I wanted to do. I set 60 goals and I am proud to say that I managed to accomplish over 45 of them. It was fun to have a focus and to try some new adventures and have many unique experiences. And, as I write this to you, I am trying not to focus on the few that I missed. It is so easy to let my mind wander to the “I did not accomplish list” rather than celebrating all the things that I did do.
Why is this our mindset? Even though I appreciate my life and work very hard to see the positive in life’s little moments, it is easier for me to tell you what I didn’t do rather than the “done” list. As the year was progressing, I knew that I was going to miss some. I had an injury that sidelined me for a few months and at that point I knew there were goals that were out of my reach. There was even a day or two when I thought I should just forget about the list since I wasn’t going to see the whole thing through. You know the feeling… it is similar to many, many diets that I have tried only to stop when I cheated once! So, what does this have to do with school improvement? After all, that is what I said that this blog would be about! How can my”60″ list help you improve your school?
Setting goals is a big part of what I support in my school improvement work. We have to set direction, know where we are headed and then authentically progress monitor on our way to targets. I know that anyone reading this who works in business is very aware of targets, goals and accountability. This has to be the same in our school practices. We use the language of SMART goals and we ask schools to set long-term and short-term goals. In coaching sessions, I help teachers and administrators think about the evidence that they can collect- daily, weekly, monthly and as the year progresses to know if they are on track with their goals. Sometimes, we have to adjust our goals for reasons that are real. And, sometimes, we forget to involve the people who really should own the goals… the students. I was in a school this week that was doing an amazing job of having students self-report. They were tracking their own progress knowing what was expected and having fun doing it with very creative and fun activities and tasks!
I really could have done a better job throughout this year tracking my progress towards the “60”. Sometimes I would look at it and make a plan around one or two of them and then I might actually forget about the goals I set. I lost time when I lost sight of what I said that I would do… what I would focus on. Does this sound like a problem you have as well?
One of the “60” was to publish a book and I was so proud when this book that I coauthored with my amazing, smart friend Jeanne Spiller, was released (https://www.solutiontree.com/products/new-releases/leading-with-intention.html). If you haven’t had a chance to look at it, it really is about keeping your eye on the target and being intentional in your work. It doesn’t mean being perfect at this. It doesn’t mean that you will never drop the ball or make mistakes. But it is about having a vision of what you want your end results to be and what you will do to get there.
As the end of 2018 draws near, I challenge you to reflect on your approach and mindset. Do you take the time to set realistic goals and actually progress monitor, adjust and stay the course? Do you get discouraged if you miss an opportunity or take a detour or do you see this as an opportunity to reset your plan? Are you celebrating what goes well (your 45/60)? What can you do to become more intentional as we head in to 2019?
Thank you for reading with me. This will end my blogs for 2018 and I will look forward to being with you in 2019 (when I will re-focus on the 15 goals I have left to accomplish!). It has been a pleasure to write and reflect with you and I appreciate you. Have a lovely holiday season and a very happy new year to everyone.