Like most people entering into the New Year, I am reflecting on past goals, lamenting a few that I gave up on, celebrating the ones I achieved, and establishing new goals to challenge myself in 2016. As I reflect, I realize more and more that I tend to hold tighter to those goals I have shared with others. So, a simple strategy for me has been to share my most challenging goals with others around me to help keep me focused and attentive to the actions those will require. In this way, when I do show results, I can share and celebrate those with others as well and maybe even inspire someone else along the way. What has been even more revealing, however, is when I know that even those who do not know the goal I set for myself will be seeing the results of my actions…WOW, do I ever put my heart and soul into reaching that goal.
A quick example. I have been a novice runner for several years now. Yes, you heard that correctly; I consider myself a novice even though I have been at it for a long time. That being said, I do set goals for myself each year. This year I have set the goal of running my second Half Marathon. Now, on a good day I will run a 10:30 min mile. On a really good day I will run a 10:00 min mile (all the runners out there now know why I still consider myself a novice). If I am feeling really good, almost putting everything I have into it, I will run a 9:30 min mile. In December, leading up to setting this goal, I had everything from 11:00 min mile runs to…well, I am embarrassed to say how slowly I ran.
What I started to do, however, was post my runs on social media. Either I would post times on Facebook or, since I use the MapMyRun App, I would share my runs with close friends and also get to see their workouts. I found this simple step to be highly motivating. It inspired me knowing that others around me who knew I was working towards a goal would see my times and would see how often I was training. I actually felt like it got me working out, committing to the right actions even more. Additionally, I found I worked a little harder knowing that I was going to post my run. My times went from averaging 11:00 min miles and above to averaging around 10:30 min miles. Like I said that’s a good day for me. What happened next, however, raised the level of my inspiration to a whole new level.
As I train, I will throw in a few 5Ks to test out my levels. For all my educator friends – good formative assessments and progress monitoring, right? When you run in an organized race, times are typically posted for EVERYONE to see, plus you are right there in a mix of hundreds of others who are all engaged in the same actions. These people do not know about my goal, however, knowing they would see my time, even if they did not know me, drove me during the race. My first 5K of 2016, I am proud to say, was at 9:30 min miles. Yup, I averaged what is definitely at my current best level on the very first race of the year. The post on Facebook was before I was out of the parking lot.
So, because Voices of ReVision is a space for people to talk about education, let me make the connection.
Administrators and teachers throughout the United States will be sitting in Mid-Year conferences over the next two months talking about progress related to the goals set for students as well as their own professional learning goals. Now, I am not advising anyone to begin posting his or her goals or student results on Facebook (PLEASE!!). However, my advice is to leverage those who can inspire you to achieve the goals you have set. Be open about progress being made (or not being made) with grade level or department colleagues and, yes, even with administration. The more transparent you are, the more you may find inspiration and much needed support in achieving what you have set out to accomplish.
Your goals are so much more important than my silly goal of running a second Half Marathon and, more importantly, you have so many people around you who are as committed as you to the very same cause – better outcomes for kids. Use them as inspiration in achieving your goals. And, if you shout out from the rooftop about your goals, your successes, and even your failures, who knows, you may also inspire someone along the way to push a little harder simply because you are.
Inspire – Motivate – Commit.