Thursday night my library team partnered with the learning center to host Roane State’s first ever Long Night Against Procrastination. Our goal was to encourage students to get strong starts on those impossible-seeming papers and projects that loom at the end of term.
It was a great success. Nearly 200 students checked in to take advantage of extended library and learning center hours as well as prizes, therapy dogs, yoga and stacks of pizza. For me, the highlight of the whole thing was the Goal Wall, which was three long sheets of black paper dividing the wall into columns: Getting Started, Making Progress and Done. When students arrived, they signed in and were directed to the Goal Wall to set at least one specific, achievable goal for evening. “Make an A on my chemistry final” was not allowed. That’s an outcome. “Study my chemistry notes for an hour with a friend” was alllowed. Even better: “Understand titration.”
The emphasis was on setting small, specific, achievable goals for the evening. Not next week. Not the semester. Today. Right now. As students met their goals, they were encouraged to move their post it notes from the Getting Started column to the Making Progress and Done columns. Our goal for the evening: remind students that setting small, realistic goals leads to success meeting those bigger, more ambitious goals.
I’m a person who struggles with goal setting. Judging from the popularity of productivity blog posts in my Pocket feed and the proliferation of To Do apps, you might be too. I have tons of drive and ambition but I often set myself impossible, far range goals which I never actually meet. I spend a lot of time feeling swamped, like I’m getting no where. Turns out my goals are too big, too distant and too abstract.
This morning’s news feed gifted me Nicolas Cole’s excellent article, “If You Prioritize Your 2018 Goals This Way, You’ll Reach Every Single One Of Them”. The main take way: set concrete, measurable goals. The challenge: each week only set goals you can accomplish within 7 days. For Cole, the focus on seven days supports a discipline of setting actionable goals that are constantly reviewed. If our goals are small enough, they can certainly be achieved and success leads to success. Simple advice.
So, for this week, I’m doing the thing I encouraged my students to do. Set small, specific goals. Things that can be fit on a post-it note and measured in terms of “did I do it?” I set myself five specific goals for this week, each small enough to fit on a post-it note, which means each fits easily inside my head. No need to make it complicated or get overwhelmed. Five simple things in seven days. I’ve got this.