If you’ve ever set a new year’s resolution, you know how powerful a fresh start can be. It provides the exact motivation we all need to start setting (and meeting) our goals. Unfortunately, New Year’s only happens once every year. But if you’re a parent, educator, children’s writer, or at all involved in children’s lives, you get an honourary second New Year’s: back to school season.
Back to school season is the perfect time to reset, refresh and recommit to the goals you might’ve postponed. In this blog, I’ll share 3 EASY steps to start fresh and take advantage of the new (school) year.
The Back to School Reset: 3 EASY Steps to Start Fresh
Step 1: Set Specific & Realistic Goals
One reason many people don’t follow through with their goals is that their goals are too vague. For example:
I want to save more money this year.
I want to get more connected in my community.
I want to put my family first.
While all of the intentions behind these goals are wonderful, the goal itself isn’t effective. Each one of these goals are subjective. Saving “more” money or getting “more” connected can mean pretty much anything to anyone.
One day, saving “more” money might mean saving more than $0. Other days, it might mean saving more than 20% of your paycheque.
If you want your goals to encourage a tangible difference in your life, you need to get specific. Every goal you set must have a measurable end goal and a deadline.
I want to put 30% of my annual income towards savings by the end of the year.
Every month, I want to dedicate one day to community service (e.g., volunteering, outreach, etc.)
I will reserve each Sunday for spending time with my family.
These goals address the same concerns as the original examples, but they’re measurable and contain a specific deadline. Now it’s absolutely clear what each goal looks like in practice, making them easier to maintain and measure.
Step 2: Diversify Your Focal Points
Another common mistake many people make when setting goals is placing all their goals in one area of life.
For example, a teacher might set five specific and measurable goals, but each one is applicable only in the classroom. Or a parent might set ten measurable goals, but they all have to do with their professional life.
To really take advantage of the back to school season and start fresh, you need to make sure your goals cover all areas of your life, not just one.
This is because, even if you’re staying on top of all your goals, if they only address one area of life, you’ll quickly fall behind in all the other important areas of your life. (And you’ll end up with that same in-over-your-head feeling.)
When you sit down to set new goals, I recommend having one goal in each of the following areas:
In THIS blog post, I dive deeper into each of these focal points and why they’re important. If you’re not sure what each of these life areas mean for you, I highly recommend skimming through it.
If you can set at least one quality goal in each of these areas, you’ll find yourself avoiding the overwhelm that often comes from ineffective goals.
Step 3: Dream Big & Think Small (Even after back to school season)
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear explains that reaching our big dreams becomes possible when we break our goals into smaller, daily practices. Then, overtime, the habits we establish will compound, leading us closer and closer to the finish line.
Oftentimes, when we set big goals for ourselves, we get overwhelmed. After all, that BIG goal is quite far from who we are right now. Thinking about BIG goals can compare to standing at the bottom of Mount Everest, staring up at the peak, thinking, there’s no way I can do this.
Instead of looking up to the peak, we need to focus on the next immediate step. The only way to climb is to take one step at a time.
Once you set your goals, take the time to break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Then, set your sights on taking just one step every day. As time goes on, you’ll find yourself closer and closer to the end goal without even realizing it.
Next thing you know, it’ll be back to school season again, and you’ll have newer & greater goals to set for yourself.
A Bonus "Back to School" Reset Technique
If you want to multiply the effects of all these strategies, I highly recommend finding an accountability partner.
I use accountability partners because I find it’s much harder to let someone else down than it is to let myself down. If I tell others that I plan on achieving a goal, I feel much more motivated to actually follow through.
To learn more about how accountability partners can elevate your back to school season, check out THIS article.
If you’re a children’s writer in need of a likeminded community to keep you motivated, I encourage you to join my FREE Children’s Book Writers Community
Who can help you get started, navigate your biggest questions, and celebrate your success?