I’m a great fan of reflection – I think it’s important to continuously learn from the things we get right as well as the things we get wrong. Every Monday morning is a chance to get focused for a new week ahead and see what we can learn from last week whilst setting ourselves challenges for the next week.
We are often encouraging our pupils to stretch and challenge themselves and to enter their ‘danger zones’ – but do we do the same with ourselves? I think if you’re really honest with yourself you’ll find you don’t really.
Below are some prompts that I find useful to think through before approaching each new week. You don’t have to spend ages thinking about them – the key thing is that having thought through the past week that you set yourself three challenges for this week, and revisit them when setting next week’s challenges.
Please share your challenges by commenting – and let’s see how we all get on with achieving them.
Reflecting on the last week
Think back over the last week and ask yourself the following questions… and answer honestly:
What did I aim to achieve last week?
Did I achieve it?
What stood in my way?
What can I do about that moving forwards?
What worked really well?
Can I adapt what worked well to use in other circumstances?
Looking forward to the week ahead
Think forward to the week ahead and answer the following questions:
What am I looking forward to this week? And why?
What am I NOT looking forward to this week? And why?
What challenges do I expect to face this week?
Is there anyone whose expertise or support I can draw on to help me overcome difficulties?
Now that you’ve spent a couple of minutes reflecting on the last week and thinking forward to the week ahead, it’s time to set yourself three challenges for the week. This is the important bit.
Write them down. It will help you stick to them. You’ll be even more likely to achieve them if you share them as you’ll feel some public accountability you could do so by commenting here, by tweeting them or by discussing them with a colleague. You may also find that others are able to help or advise you.
So, it’s simple really. This, and every week set yourself three challenges:
1. The Easy Win – It’s hugely motivational if you can have a real success early in the week. The first challenge can often be something that you know you can achieve that you’ve been meaning to do for some time but that you’ve not got around to. Prioritise it this week and give yourself something to feel good about early on in the week. It will motivate you to complete your other two challenges.
2. The Stretching Aim – Having had your easy win, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and aim for something that you feel far less comfortable about but that you’re confident will have a big impact if you can crack it. You spend a lot of time encouraging your pupils to stretch and challenge themselves, now it’s time for you to do the same. Bite the bullet and imagine how motivated you will feel when you achieve your aim and you’re seeing the impact on the ground. This is usually the most satisfying of all three challenges to achieve.
3. The Long Term Play – It’s really important that we don’t stay stuck in the bubble of getting through each day and doing our best along the way. We need to open our eyes and look to the future. It’s important that you have some idea of your bigger plan and some of the steps to achieve that. If you’ve never thought beyond the here and now, now’s the time to get thinking. Think about what you’d like your next career move to be and brainstorm the different things you will need to do to get there. You can tackle these one by one in your weekly challenges – often you’ll find there are certain skills you need to develop to be ready for a new role, or areas of weakness that need work. Or maybe it’s just the practical side of actually writing an application or looking for a post. Whatever you need to do, if you chip away at it week by week, not only will it be more achievable, but you’ll find that this long term focus as part of your normal week is a very healthy way of keeping things in perspective and ensuring you continue on the right trajectory.
What are you waiting for?
So what are you waiting for? Start challenging yourself and let me know how you get on.