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Stretch and challenge yourself this week

Stretch and challenge yourself this weekI’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?



Challenge Setting

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.



7 responses to “Stretch and challenge yourself this week”

  1. Some real ‘food for thought’ here and posts like this always make me realise I don’t spend enough time reflecting. Not only is this important, but it is a skill I expect and encourage of the children in my school. Too many times do we ask so much of children, without modelling these learning behaviours ourselves.

  2. Avatar Ross Mannell says:

    Self-assessment, self-appraisal, self-criticism or self-reflection is an important step in any process. If we fail to do that for ourselves we leave ourselves open to others who will judge us. Your suggestions are a wonderful and the three challenges can set us on the path to improvement.

    I can have the problem of judging myself too harshly at times when I feel I am not up to par but I have looked at the children in my classes over the years and know they are worth the effort to improve.

    “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” Aldous Huxley 1894 –1963

  3. Last year I set my self challenge of achieving a new goal each month – it was an amazing experience having to learn something new from scratch! My goals included some physical challenges, such as learning to swim underwater, some crafty ones such as learning to knit and some experience based ones – such as sleep out at a music festival.

    Planning was the key to success. Breaking down the tasks into small bites and knowing where to go for help/guidance were crucial and all took lots of planning.

    It was a blast and I am happy to report i was able to achieve the vast majority of them.

    This year I am learning to ride a bike and am currently doing a cycle proficiency course.

  4. Avatar Vijay says:

    Time management is the key here Pooky :) I would go in for
    a) Finish all the impending tutoring sessions I have for the week i.e. fit in 24 hours in 4 days till Thursday.
    b) Finish packing my luggage and get ready for my flight back home.
    c) Schedule some important parent meeting dinners for the next fall and restart my tutoring again.


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