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Goal setting and a duvet moment

Overwhelmed by too many goals?

Here is the solution – have a duvet moment!

The irony of target setting and constant measurement in education is that a focus on ticking boxes means we actually get further away from achieving the outcomes and objectives that we set – developing and improving learning.

Only a small percent of people actually set themselves a New Year’s resolution. Of those that do, 92% fail to achieve them. Underpinning many of these failures is an issue that is addressed by coaching – knowing how to set goals properly, SMART or otherwise.

Even before the ink has dried on the paper, people set themselves up for failure. This may or may not make a significant difference in your home life; it most certainly does in an education environment that has a laser like approach to quality assurance and the maintenance of standards.

The solution is to rethink your approach to goal setting: it is not a burden, but is an act that will make a positive difference to your work. Above all, recognise that goal setting is a process, not a one off event!

It is easy to forget the time scales associated with achievement – important things in our lives like learning to walk, learning to talk, etc. – LONG time scales, each achieved by a little and often approach.

You may well know the huge difference made by actually writing your goal down – it acts like a contract. However, the contract must be with you: your ‘true’ self, the one person you look at in the mirror and who knows what you are really thinking about.

Part of the success recipe lies in how you structure the goal: the contract will only work if you are clear about what is in it for you: how are you going to gain from this? What is the positive outcome you are going to get?

How many times have you written a goal or target in school, only to have the performance review document sit in a drawer? The key to making progress is to create or generate some new evidence which will start the success train. Easier said than done? No, not if you know what taking action actually involves!

One of many actions not taken is the simple act of ring fencing small regular time slots when something will get done: it is a period of time when nothing else whatsoever happens, other than what you planned. So do this first: ensure you colour code your paper or electronic, diary using a colour that has the most significance to you.

A successfully written contract starts a process that will, not might, set up an ongoing sequence of little wins. This is where the duvet moment comes in:-

The duvet moment story:

On a Sunday morning I am lying in bed next to my wife and I simply flip open the duvet. Why because I can, it is a very simple act that I can take now, in the moment, requires little or no preparation, it is an absolute 10 out of 10 in terms of commitment and leaves me with a simple choice: to flip it back again or get out of bed.

However, BECAUSE I have flipped it open a whole chain of events unfold: I get out of bed, go and make a cup of tea, all of which create a momentum of their own. I view the smelly cycling kit and now that I am up, put it on, go out to the garage, get on the bike and am faced with a decision. Turn left and head off on a 20 mile route round the Somerset levels or turn right and head off towards the Bristol road. It is my choice, but I always turn right – the mission now is starting to take shape. Eventually I get to a junction with the A37 going out of Wells and Ash Lane: I am faced with a decision, turn left and go backwards round the 20mile route over the levels, or to cycle uphill nonstop for 22 mins to get to the top.

I never decide to cycle up the hill!

What I do decide to do is to play a game, to set myself a challenge of cycling to an identifiable object – a twig, a drain cover, a sign , a tree, that is somewhere between 20 and 40 peddle cycles away. I guess how many peddles it is actually going to take me to get there. I play this game for 22 minutes,

I never ‘fail’ to reach the top,

It takes me 4 mins to get down again – the buzz of the downhill rush being my reward for the effort in getting there in the first place.

So what is the objective of a duvet moment? It is nothing more than my take on many age old adages, and is one that makes sense to me:

Just do it, every long journey starts with the first step, just do 5 mins, just start now, etc. etc

Goals are completely useless unless you start the journey, which is a lesson so many people fail to learn. The duvet moment principle simply ensures that:

  • no matter what,

  • despite the best procrastination strategy,

  • not withstanding huge degrees of self doubt,

  • regardless of many other equally pressing tasks,

something actually starts – in short some sort of action is taken. It moves theory and planning to hard practice. Taking one step begins the process of building momentum, it starts the success trail, it leads to other things, it opens up other possibilities: in short it underpins the success of a goal being achieved. In my case it leaves me feeling energised and motivated for the rest of the day.

Writing goals that are SMART is simply the start of a process, writing them so that they give you a sense of POWER, increases the likelihood of you personally taking action.

Having a duvet moment is the critical and all important first step to definitely making sure you achieve the outcome you want to achieve. Ultimately it will impact on children’s learning – which is what we all signed up for in the first place.

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