There are thousands of self-help books out there all purporting to know the secret key to success and how to achieve one’s goals. Here you can read it for free. The key to achieving your goals is, to set them into clearly manageable steps and to stop seeing obstacles but rather embrace opportunities!
Time after time in the world of education I hear well-meaning teachers drivel on, ‘if you can dream it you can achieve it’ and while I know they are trying to be ‘inspirational’ this culture of wishing for things needs to stop. The culture of entitlement we currently find ourselves in, is in my opinion, a direct result of this ‘dream big’ slogan. Just because you want something does not mean, A, you are going to get it or, B, that you deserve to get it. Equally, people who say, ‘Work hard’ annoy me as some people work incredibly hard throughout their lives with little or nothing to show for it other than their bitterness towards the world.
The key to achieving one’s goals is a balance between ‘dreaming it, and working hard for it’ but more over it’s about setting clear achievable targets.
First, one needs to set goals by writing them down.
At the start of every school year I get the children in my class to write down three goals: one academic, one social, and one ‘other’. Once they have written their goals down we look at them in detail. Often their goals are vague, for example: ‘I want to be good at Maths.’
In order for one to make a success out of goal setting, one’s goals need to be clear, so I ask the children, ‘what exactly in the field of Maths do you want to do better in?’ In this way we break down a goal into a manageable ‘chunk’ ie: ‘learning multiplication facts up to x15’.
Next, we plan a learning journey.
Once you have set a clear goal it is easy to plot a ‘route’ to achieve it. Think about your daily schedule, when can you spend time ‘working’ on this goal to achieve it, and how is what you are going to do, different from what you have done before? So in essence you are forced to be self-reflective about bad habits in the past, and why as of yet, that ‘dream’ has not been realized.
Let’s take the above goal about being better at Maths as an example.
Step one: Set the goal
Step two: Focus the goal- what in maths do we want to do better in?
Step three: Reset the goal– I want to learn my timetables up to x15 confidently.
Step four: Time management- when am I going to have time to work on that goal, after school, in class?
Step five: Deadline- Set a date by which you would need to have achieved your goal. Think in manageable times so say by the end of the 2nd week I will know my tables to x5, by the end of week 6 my tables to x10 by the end of week 8 my tables to x 12 and by the end of week 10 I will know my times tables to x15.
It is so important that time management comes into play as you need to prioritise your goals. If you want to succeed you need to be dedicated! This is the next step in the learning journey.
You need to set targets and deadlines.
If you don’t have a clear end point or date for achieving something, naturally you won’t be motivated to make it a priority. Many people set goals, but then never achieve them as they are in a perpetual cycle of ‘working on it’. If people were really honest with themselves they would realise that being lazy is one of the most difficult things to overcome, breaking bad habits and prioritising goals are key. If you can’t prioritize your goals, then clearly they are not that important to you. This is also a key step in learning what truly matters to you.
The sub step to this is to know yourself; you need to set manageable deadlines. If your goal is to learn a new language and your deadline is by next month, you will feel frustrated and let down as even the brightest people would struggle to master such a task in such a short allotment of time.
Rather say you would have joined a language class by next month and have attended at least one session. That way you will feel the success of achieving your goal and this will motivate you to continue on your learning journey. Setting goals is about setting a series of steps, like a ladder to success, achieving ones goals needs to be broken up into manageable steps. Each step with its own deadline to keep you motivated.
The final step on your learning journey is to be reflective and constantly re-evaluating your goals. If you are racing through certain steps as they are easier than you originally thought, challenge yourself by adjusting the deadlines you set at the beginning. Equally, if you are struggling to meet your targets don’t be afraid to go back a step. The question you need to ask yourself is: ’why is it not working?’ and find a way around the hurdle.
Everyone can succeed in life if they are determined to keep at it, but working smarter and allowing yourself to set a good pace is what will make the difference. Don’t be lazy… start working on something new today!