A Plan or a Goal Helps Us Attain Real Results

As we embark on a new decade, I read a very timely piece recently by one of my favourite columnists entitled Instead of doomed New Year’s resolutions, set some 10-year goals. In other words, why do we continue to set ourselves up for failure by setting the same old New Year’s resolutions? The start of 2020 presents a golden opportunity to set 10-year goals instead, which for many of us may be more attainable than annual resolutions.

Mr. Harvey challenged the Senior School students with a similar task at the first Academic Assembly of the year. As the Middle/Senior Academic Director, he asked them to participate in a thought experiment where they imagined themselves 10-15 years from now at 2:00 pm on a Wednesday in January, around 30 years old. “Where are you? What are you doing? Are you dressed in business or casual?”

This got me thinking as well. In 10-15 years, where will I be and what will I be doing? Several decades ago, I remember being a recent university graduate and attending a professional development session offered by my employer. They were expounding the benefits of setting a 5-year plan. What did I want to accomplish over the next five years? Where did I see myself heading? While life and kids have altered my trajectory a bit, I still try to think in those terms and find for me that a long-term goal can lead to more success than idealistic resolutions set on January 1st and forgotten by the February 1st.

Mr. Harvey referred to this process of visualizing where you want to be, what you want to do, who you want to be – as having a Plan. We all need a plan, a roadmap of sorts. While some people believe they can simply wing it, research suggests that you will achieve your goals more often and with greater success if you have a defined plan – even if you adjust and recalibrate it every so often.

For starters, Mr. Harvey suggested that being open to taking the lessons learned from their Term One report card is a good opportunity to work on developing an improvement strategy and set new goals for Term Two. This is true for almost anything, and whether it’s a professional review you receive or your own personal assessment at the start of a New Year (or decade as the case may be). For some, even the start of a new school year following Labour Day can serve as a launching point for a fresh start.

Goal setting is also a good way to become unstuck. Sometimes we can feel stuck in our ways, in a rut, hamster wheel spinning, what have you. Whether it’s a realistic new workout regiment that doesn’t set you up for failure, enrolling in a pottery class or an online course, setting your sights on a new job or home, or planning some exciting travel – setting a goal of small or large change can spice things up and give you a new outlook on life.

It’s 2020 and the possibilities are exciting and endless. Keep striving and trying new things – isn’t that what life is all about? If at first you don’t succeed, plan, plan again!