You’ve heard the saying out-of-sight-out-of-mind, which in most contexts refers to distraction tactics of an infant or toddler. But I’m here to burst everyone’s bubble and say that out-of-sight-out-of-mind is a very real occurrence for adults, especially when it comes to our goals, but not in a good way like it is for toddlers.
Instead of being able to use it to our advantage, though, the out-of-sight-out-of-mind concept robs us of accomplishing our goals each year if they aren’t something that has to do with our daily lives or we’re otherwise trying to get outside our comfort zone.
For instance, it’s easier for someone to accomplish a goal of working out everyday if they work at a gym. They have the constant reminder and opportunity. But for a teacher, especially when it comes to their personal goals, we are so focused on what we do as educators everyday and then don’t have much mental space leftover to focus on our goals at the end of each day or week.
What this means is that we may do a great job at the beginning of the calendar year or school year making goals for ourselves or our careers, but then the daily grind of teaching hits, and we are too exhausted to focus any more time or effort on what really is very important to us.
In this episode I want to provide some steps you can take to change that. To help you take those goals you make in January or at the beginning of the school year, and plan them out so that they are NOT out-of-sight-out-of-mind, but instead you’re using your planner and calendar system to visit your goals regularly.
After listening to this episode you’ll go from feeling defeated in accomplishing your goals (whether personal or professional) to knowing you’ve got it in the bag when it comes to concrete steps I provide for you to keep those goals in your sights and in your mind throughout the year no matter the daily teacher hustle.
Before we get to today’s episode, I have a favor to ask of you. If you are enjoying the content of this podcast and feel that it provides value to your teaching or personal life, I would so appreciate it if you helped us reach other teacher who might find value in our message as well. You can do that in a few simple steps.
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Alright, now let’s get to the episode.
I’d like to take a moment to address what internal battle you may have when it comes to your personal (and sometimes professional) goals. I know they exist because I had them too, and to some extent still do.
You may be thinking that it’s really hard to consider goals for yourself when there is so little time in the day. Your time would be better spent on your students and helping them reach their goals than spending time planning and reaching your own goals.
Here’s the thing… you aren’t entirely wrong. You’re right, in that spending time focusing on your students will give them a better chance at reaching their goals (or improving their scores). But that’s only true for so long. If you don’t reinvigorate your passion for a hobby, find a new one, refocus on your health in sustainable ways, learn something new, rekindle an old relationship or find a new one… you know, all the things of living and thriving, then you will burn out, and you will become bitter toward teaching and your students.
I know this, because I lived it.
Between raising my own children, and investing in my students, what sometimes felt like I was helping raise them as well, am I right?!? I just had nothing left for me. That is, I had no passion left. I had no mental energy to feel excited about something outside of raising and teaching kids.
And I burnt out because of it. I became resentful, and lived in a negative space for some months, and didn’t shake it until I took time to focus on something that lit me up. And this happened more than once.
What eventually lit me up in each instance wasn’t the same every time. But the process of finding it, and focusing on it in sustainable ways throughout the year (or any amount of time) was the same, and is what I want to show you in this episode.
James Clear, author of possibly the best goal setting and habit building book I’ve read, Atomic Habit, which I would highly recommend to you and you can grab your copy at the link in the description of this episode, tells us that if we don’t like a habit or if it’s not tied to something else we’re already doing, the likelihood of success in meeting that goal or doing that habit every day is slim to none.
I’ll repeat that, if we don’t like it, we won’t do it. If you liked it, you would already be doing it, right? This doesn’t mean that you can go after the big goal of tidying and decluttering your home when you hate cleaning. It just means you need to start really small.
Which is my advice for your goals when you are balancing them against the daily grind of teaching. Make your goals small and accomplishable so that you eventually get to experience the snowball effect.
Think of Dave Ramsey’s snowball debt effect… it’s like the same thing but with habit development. You need to have the big goal in mind - saving $10,000, losing 50 pounds, decluttering or organizing your entire home - but it’s the daily or routine small habits that will get you there. Make those your goals.
I’ve always been a planner diva, and I’m betting I’m not the only teacher that way. I loved the covers and stickers, the flair pens, and using it to write out pretty much every detail of my life.
Recently I’ve shifted to a daily planner that focuses on goal setting and getting instead, and here’s why.
The items that are the daily grind, what I would put on a to-do list, were random and never ending. It felt like I was running in place, never accomplishing much. But the daily planner I use, the Full Focus Planner, forces me to develop habits that allow me to approach my to-do list and my goals in a more systematic way… a way that makes them more likely to achieve.
The biggest thing it does for me, which was probably the hardest part to adapt to, but also the thing that had the biggest impact, was it forced me to set aside endless to-do lists for accomplishing my goals.
Now, the setting aside the to-do list part sounds really scary. For sure. But, setting and actually accomplishing goals by keeping them front of mind is what we’re after here, right?
So I’ll ask you to trust me and go all in on this.
The Full Focus Planner is what I use to record my annual goals - yes there are pages at the beginning of every Full Focus Planner for your annual goals - then it provides me space to break down those annual goals to quarterly ones. We have to break them down smaller, and then even smaller. I then take those quarterly goals and set monthly goals, then weekly goals. Using the Full Focus Planner I establish my Weekly Big Three - these are the three things that if I accomplish them, I will be taking forward steps in meeting goals. Now, of course I’ll accomplish other things, and continue with appointments and meetings, etc. But these three are my focus, because my goals are my focus.
Finally, in the Full Focus Planner, which is a daily planner, gives us space to set our Daily Big Three. These are smaller chunks of our Weekly Big Three. So it provides us space to think about our biggest, annual goals, then break them down into daily goals so that we stop thinking about them and we start taking action and accomplishing them.
To learn more about the Full Focus Planner and get a 10% discount just for being a Sustainable Teacher Podcast listener, please head to our show notes linked below or go to teachonamission.com/planner.
I personally love the Bold collection because of the pretty cover colors and inside cover designs, and am hoping to try the new coil planner soon.
What the daily planner doesn't do is provide me with the information I need when I’m scheduling an appointment. It doesn’t let me know what is already taking up my time, as it shouldn't, because it’s focus is on goals. And that is what I use my monthly calendar for.
Instead of the monthly layout of planner pages being used for appointments and obligations, I use a digital calendar system that can be shared with the important people in my life.
There’s really nothing special about this system of a digital calendar other than that I bring it up on my phone every single Sunday when I am filling out the Weekly Preview in my Full Focus Planner, and then again each afternoon when I’m filling out the Daily Schedule for the next day. This way, I know what obligations are taking up some time, and how to establish reasonably accomplishable daily three tasks.
If I have a day full of meetings and practices to cart my kids to in the evening, then I know that my Daily Big Three are going to focus on those items (prepping for the meetings, for instance) and other small items. When I have this awareness, thanks to my digital calendar, I’m able to set more obtainable goals, albeit small gaols, that way I’m not over planning my day and ultimately feeling defeated for not accomplishing what was too much for me to accomplish in the first place. And, by extension, I’m more likely to stay the course on accomplishing my goals because I’m avoiding the frustration of feeling defeated or overwhelmed.
That’s sustainable, am I right?
That’s a plan to put in front of teachers who already have so much on their plates, allowing you to focus on your goals in sustainable ways.
Let’s do a quick recap on this goal getting system.
And there you have it, teacher-friend. The last thing I will leave you with today is how huge this system has been for accomplishing great things in my classroom. When I’ve wanted to make big changes in my classroom, breaking it down into smaller goals has served me well, especially when it came to flipping my classroom. If that is a goal you would like to set for yourself, then you can absolutely apply the principles of this episode, and then go grab the Flipped Classroom Starter Kit that I’ve made for you and any other teacher wanting to make sure the steps their taking are the right ones; ones that will save them time and headache when it comes to implementing their flipped lessons and empowers their students to own more of their learning, no matter what age. You can grab the Flipped Classroom Starter Kit at the link in the description below.
I will see you same time, same place, next week. Bye for now.