Congratulations on completing another semester! You probably feel a great sense of relief. Unfortunately, this feeling is probably short-lived. This is what usually happens: We finish the semester in a frantic way (although hopefully less frantic than usual if you’ve been taking my blog posts to heart). We feel exhausted, and are just grateful to be DONE.
Just when we stop to catch our breath, we realize another semester is starting sooner than we’d like. So, we start planning – doing course prep, etc.
We never take the time to think about the previous semester, and unfortunately, we end up repeating the same mistakes.
Repeating Mistakes Isn’t Inevitable.
Before the next semester starts, take some time to do a bit of a “year in review” exercise. Think about what you wanted to achieve last semester, and what you did achieve. Get a piece of paper or pull up a blank document on your computer, and answer the following questions:
- Did I have clearly articulated goals for the semester?
- Is so, how many?
- If not, why didn’t I?
- Did I have a system for achieving those goals? For instance, if I wanted to “improve my teaching,” did I have a system for registering and evaluating feedback from students? If I wanted to write a manuscript, did I schedule regular writing sessions, join a writing group, give myself a deadline, etc?
- If I didn’t have a system, what were my expectations around my goals? Was I still confident I would achieve them?
- If I did have a system, was it successful? If it wasn’t successful, why?
- Did I frequently find myself overwhelmed by work? If so, was it when I was doing a specific type of work (grading, administrative work, writing, etc)?
Once you have answered these questions, use your responses to structure how you think about the goals you’d like to achieve in the upcoming semester.
Based on your responses, you might fall into one of three camps. You might be very good at setting goals, but struggle to achieve them. This can be because you don’t have the proper systems and/or support in place. Or, you may set unrealistic goals that you’ll have trouble achieving no matter how motivated or organized you are. Finally, you might already excel at setting realistic goals and achieving them. In that case, you may simply want to maintain your momentum going into the next semester.
You CAN Set Better Goals
If you are ready to set realistic, attainable goals for the upcoming semester, I invite you to participate in my 5-Day Goal Setting Challenge. We’ll start on January 8th, and each day for five days you’ll receive a short goal-setting lesson in your inbox:
Day 1: Writing with Intention: Remembering the Value of Your Writing.
Day 2: From Goals to Tasks: Developing a Reliable Goal-Setting System.
Day 3: It’s Not Real If It’s Not Scheduled: Bringing Your Tasks to Your Calendar.
Day 4: Hot Seat. I’ll offer a critique of one (anonymous) participant’s goals along with feedback on how to strengthen them.
Day 5: Making Your Goals Stick: Creating a Culture of Accountability.
By the end of the challenge, you’ll have a system for setting goals that are realistic rather than overwhelming. You’ll know how to test the goals you set to determine whether they’re attainable, and how long it will take to achieve them so you can plan accordingly.