Any time of year is a good time to set goals and start working towards them. However there are certain times of year when it feels very natural to set goals. One of these times is the New Year, and another is ‘Back to School’ time.
What would you love to have achieved by December? What would you feel really proud of accomplishing? As students head ‘Back to School’ to achieve their academic goals, we can take inspiration from them and apply it to our goals.
When we begin to see advertisements for ‘Back to School’ and children get ready for the new school year, it is a great time to set goals for ourselves too. However, our goals can be related to any aspect of our lives, and not just limited academic goals.
When we think of going ‘Back to School’ we picture fall colors and cooler weather. There is a ritual of going shopping for new supplies and setting off on the first day dressed in a new outfit. There is also an element of optimism and enthusiasm, ready to embrace a new and exciting challenge of the school year. So what can we learn from students who are heading ‘Back to School’ this fall?
When students go ‘Back to School’ they are surrounded by many different resources. These include tools such as new books, pens and pencils, clothes, etc. Although these tools have practical uses, they also make an important impression on the subconscious mind by providing strong motivations such as confidence and courage at a time that is generally filled with apprehension.
Students are also surrounded by many types of people resources. They have friends at school who share common interests and who are working towards common goals. They have access to teachers, librarians, counsellors, etceteras who impart their wisdom and motivate and guide them to learn new information and skills.
In addition, in order for students to be successful in achieving their academic pursuits, they also need to master the resource of time management. They need to make effective use of their time at school, and then they need to have the self-discipline to manage their time at home to do homework and prepare for the next day.
Therefore, no matter what goals you would like to achieve, you need to think about which specific resources you would need (i.e. what tools do you need, which people would help the most, where will your time come from, etc.). For example, if you wanted to get fit, then your tools might be a new gym outfit complete with cross-training sneakers to motivate yourself to go. Your people resources might be the trainers at the gym and your friends who share common fitness goals. Finally you would need to set aside time each day to attend the gym, to pack and repack your gym bag etc.
Going ‘Back to School’ also provides structure. After the freewheeling nature of summer vacation, structure can seem to be a very unwelcome thing. Even adults often think they dislike structure, and prefer to be spontaneous. However, having structure in place is a very valuable mechanism to facilitate the achievement of your goals.
Structure provides a framework so that you can do your best work effortlessly. If you decide your goal is to get fit, then structuring your workouts would be beneficial. You would need to schedule when you would attend the gym, and exactly what exercises you would be doing at each workout session.
Students have their time automatically structured. Their day-to-day time is structured with class schedules, and the exams that determine whether or not they have achieved their academic goals are structured by major holidays. The first such major holiday is in December, which gives them approximately 12 weeks to work towards their goals.
Twelve weeks is also a perfect length of time for you to work towards your goals; long enough to see results, yet short enough not to feel overwhelmed. Plus, if you are feeling melancholy that the summer is over, working towards a goal can direct that sad feeling into positive energy.
When children go ‘Back to School’ there is a feeling of newness and excitement in the air. It does not matter what happened last year; this year is a clean slate or a ‘new leaf’. Examples of the new leaf mentality might be: homework will be done the night it’s set, rather than the night before it’s due; library books will be returned on time, etc. Why not take this mind-set and apply it to your goals? It does not matter that past attempts to get fit were not successful, this time you WILL succeed.
So get ready to apply the ‘Back to School’ mind-set. Write down the goal(s) that you would like to achieve by December. Then determine the resources you need. Ensure you have the structure in place, and then turn a new leaf and jump right in!