As you would imagine, this first week back at school has involved lots of planning and looking ahead. Not just for me as I plan for the semester, but for my students as well. Whether it was my elementary school scholars or my college students, they were all asked to set some personal goals for our time together.
This is also the point in the year when we take time to reflect on the goals we had for the fall semester and whether or not we met those goals. This, I believe, is the most powerful part of setting and working toward goals.
Our natural inclination is to want to celebrate the goals we reached, and then move on. However, examining the goals that were not reached, is often more powerful and impactful than looking at the successes we had. This is extremely important for high achievers, since perfectionism and fear of failure, is a trait that many of them struggle with on a regular basis.
It does not take too long to find resources for ways to deal with failure.
For example, Forbes has 13 ways for leaders to embrace failure (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2023/07/11/13-effective-ways-for-leaders-to-embrace-failures-as-opportunities/?sh=4cf09dbf2afe) and Harvard Business Review has ways to learn from failure (https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure), to name just two.
As a teacher and a writer, these are just two things I do to help my students, or my fellow writers, make setting goals more effective by embracing our failures.
- Make the process of working toward the goal the most important part, not whether or not the goal was met.
o This means that goals and the process of working toward them has to be an on-going, and routine process.
o When examining goals that were not reached, determine the weak areas in the process.
- Schedule reflection and debrief time, rather than celebrations for reaching goals.
o While Award Ceremonies and Pizza Parties certainly have their place, in my classroom, we have Goal Assessment Days. We reflect, ponder, and discuss the process. And the implications going forward.
I don’t know who said it, but I read somewhere that failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of it.