So you have set your teacher goals for the term. After some soul searching and reflection, you have laid the smack down and know what you’re going to achieve. You have your teacher goals, and better yet, you how to get there!
Then term starts.
It is busy, very busy. You’re running around catching up on that photocopying you completely forgot about, and you’re on your second coffee before 9 am; never a good start. It is okay. It is a long term; I can start achieving tomorrow. Today is all about putting out the spot fires. Your teacher goals have, as they tend to do, become a second priority.
We are so busy during the school day that we don’t find the time to achieve our teacher goals. At time it can feel impossible to get those little victories. Finding the time to finally start that business feels like an eternity away.
Here are seven common mistakes, how you can fix them, and track your progress. Also, for clarity, there are a few affiliate links in this article. That means that I have recommended some awesome products that I know will help. If you buy one, I receive a small cut to help manage this site. If you don’t buy them, then that is cool too.
You’re not writing your teacher goals down.
If your inner monologue is anything like mine, he is overly ambitious and doesn’t shut up! We all set goals in our minds. Most of us probably do it every day. Everything from a “wouldn’t it be nice if…” to a full-blown “I will achieve….” is the beginning of a goal that we have but never act on. The reason is that we never write it down.
As written by Forbes: “According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals”.
I recommend starting with an outline for your goals. The more planning you put into your teacher goals early, the easier it will be later.
What you need to do instead: This one is obvious. Write down your goals. Pin them up on your wall, fridge, or anywhere else you will see them. Try the road map to success.
You’re telling too many people
Well if keeping it in your head doesn’t work, then surely announcing your goal to all that care (and some who don’t) is the way to go? Think again.
The mind is a tricky thing. All-around smart people, Peter Gollwitzer, Paschal Sheeran, Verena Michalski, and Andrea Siefert published an exciting paper (well, as exciting as one can be) on goal setting in the May 2009 issue of Psychological Science. They argued that important goals like pursuing a career path, committing to a hobby and eating healthy involve a commitment to an identity goal. Identity goals are goals that ultimately influence a person’s concept of who they are.
The theory behind it is if your goal is to start going to the gym every day before school and you tell someone, they are already beginning to think of you as an early -rising-gym-going-health-nut, and you have already achieved a part of your goal. When people start to see you in your new identity, your brain sees it as a success, even though you haven’t done anything yet – which is fantastic, unless you want actually to get things done.
A leading website in its field, Psychology Today reported on the study.
“Gollwitzer and his colleagues provided evidence for this point. In one clever study, they had students interested in becoming Psychologists list two activities that they would perform in the next week to help them achieve that goal. Half of the people handed what they wrote to the experimenter who read it over and acknowledged reading what they had written. The other half were told that the exercise of writing down their intentions was given to them in error, and that nobody would be looking at it. The following week, all of the participants were contacted again and were asked to remember the goals they had written down the previous week and then to write down how much time they had spent on those activities. The people whose goals were read by the experimenter actually spent less time pursuing those activities than the people whose goals were not read. A number of follow-up studies were presented as well that ruled out other explanations for this finding. (Psychology Today)
Instead, start tracking your goals. A service like Goals On Track will keep you honest and is only about $6 a month, and has a money back guarantee for the first thirty days. Having that financial investment, even if it is only a couple of bucks a week, is usually enough to keep people invested and interested.
What you need to do instead: Keep your bigger goals to yourself and don’t let your mind play tricks on you.
You’re creating unrealistic goals
I am all for reaching for the stars. Set your goals high and never underestimate yourself. However, be wary of doing so. It is incredible to have the big goals you want to achieve one day. However, you need to track back and break it down into smaller, digestible steps.
This was spoken about expertly in one of my favourite books, The ONE Thing. To set goals, work backwards from the someday and goal set to the now. For example, if you want to run a successful TPT store and be a teacher-blogger one day that is great. However, as an inexperienced teacher who hasn’t even opened their store yet, it is unrealistic to have that out there with nothing else guiding it.
Using the principal as the ‘someday’ goal, and goal setting to the now, break your goal down into smaller parts.
- Five year goal: What do I have to achieve in the next five years to become a successful full-time seller on TPT?
- This year: What do I have to achieve in the next year to reach my five-year goal?
- Monthly goal: What do I have to do this month to reach my yearly goal?
- Weekly goal: What do I have to do this week to reach my monthly goal?
- Today: What do I have to do TODAY to reach my weekly goal
By backwards-engineering your goals, you turn an unrealistic someday goal into something you can do today.
Besides, by setting achievable goals, you will be surprised how those small wins quickly turn into life-changing triumphs.
What you need to do instead: Reach for the stars while making sure you know the first steps.
You haven’t set a timeline
As a follow-up to the last point, if you don’t have a timetable for your goals, then they are just dreams. You need deadlines, hell, we all need deadlines. It is the reason we give them in the classroom and the reason we have them for reports.
By not setting a deadline on your goals, you are setting yourself up to achieve a small amount of what you’re setting out do.
What you need to do instead: When writing your goals, set a timeline for achieving them.
You haven’t time-blocked
Okay, so you have your excellently written, backwards-engineered goal that you’re keeping to yourself, and you still haven’t been able to get anything done.
Again, I am going to touch on The ONE Thing, then I suggest you do. While aimed at entrepreneurs, it has a lot of goal setting techniques that have inspired what I preach. They are all about time blocking and making an appointment with yourself to get something done.
A well known time-blocking method is the Pomodoro Technique. Entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo came up with this time management technique in the late 1980s when he was a frustrated and inefficient college student. Cirillo discovered that setting aside 25 minutes every day to achieve his goals was a key to productivity.
Armed with a tomato-shaped timer, Cirillo blocked out 25 minutes from his day and took away all distractions for that time.
What you need to do instead: Set aside time every day (around your existing timetable) to achieve your goals.
You haven’t thought about the habits
Another horrible mistake with goal setting is neglecting to think about creating things into patterns. Famous Australian actor-turned-education-process-creator, F.M. Alexander has what my favourite quote about creating habits is:
“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures” -F.M. Alexander
Truer words have never been said. The practices we set and we keep are what dictate our lives. However, setting these habits aren’t as difficult as we think.
By focussing on one (or two smaller) habits at a time, we can put all of our energy into that one important task and better our life. It takes on average 66 days to create a habit, so focussing on that doing that one thing for 66 days will lead you to do it on auto-pilot. Which exactly where we want to be.
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If you think 66 days is too long, think about it this way. In five years, you will have enough 66 day periods to create 27 habits. How many healthy habits have you set in the past five years?
The best part is that we already have daily habits. Some we don’t even think about. So piggy-backing on those habits is a sure-fire way to succeed.
What you need to do instead: Click here to receive our guide to habit stacking.
You aren’t using the day wisely
Mark Twain once said to “eat the frog for breakfast every day”. While he wasn’t literal (I think), what he was talking about was doing your difficult task first thing in the morning.
And he had a point. There is a thing called decision fatigue, which means you make horrible mistakes with goal setting as the day goes on. The thought that willpower is an infinite resource has run its race. Willpower needs to be thought of in a similar way to your phone battery; entirely charged in the morning, and as the day goes on it slowly runs out. Decision fatigue even goes all the way to the top. It is proven that parole rulings made by judges are impacted by the length of time a judge’s willpower is tested. In the graph below, the dotted lines show breaks in the judge’s day.
What you need to do instead: Get the right amount of sleep and eat your frog for breakfast (not literally).
As you can see, the common mistakes we make when setting and implementing our teacher goals are easily fixable. With the right mindset and the help of the tools we recommend, you can start achieving on auto-pilot.