Jul 15, 2023

Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series: Personal and Career Goal Setting for Overcoming Burnout 

As educators, having time for personal and career goal-setting is a somewhat impossible idea. We often find ourselves caught in the whirlwind of endless responsibilities, leaving little time for self-reflection and rejuvenation. However, by harnessing the power of intentional goal setting, we can regain control of our professional lives, find renewed purpose, and cultivate a healthier work-life balance. 

Today is meeting #7 of the Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series, and we are going to dive into Hack #6 of my book Hacking Teacher Burnout which is all about determining your long-term goals and creating a vision for where you want to to, not just in education, but in LIFE.

If you’re just joining us for this summer series, I want to encourage you to grab your copy of my book, Hacking Teacher Burnout (you can get a copy on Amazon or Barns and Noble), download a copy of the Hacking Teacher Burnout Book Study Guide, and then you’re all set!  I also would encourage you to jump back to episode 186 where I kick off this mini-series and give you some insight as to what you can expect on this journey out of burnout.

Also, I’d highly encourage you to join the conversation in the Burned-In Teacher Facebook Community. There are some fun little challenges and asking questions so you can go deeper and engage with other members of the community who want to do something different and grow through their burnout.  Recently, one of the challenges that I posted in the Facebook Community was for the book study members to post their “theme song”.  You know - that song that you listen to when you’re feeling a little down and need a pick me up.  Songs that members posts are: Roar, My Lighthouse, Firework, The Secret of My Success, Ain’t Nothing Gong to Break My Stride, Get Back Up Again, Try Everything. These are amazing, and I’ll be adding these songs to the Burned-In Teacher Playlist on Spotify. This playlist is full of songs that that I go to when I need to refocus my attention on moving forward, or maybe I’m in a slump. So, head on over to Spotify and check it out for yourself! 

Alright, so back to book study!

This Hack is all about determining your long-term goals, and when I was thinking about what story about my journey I’d like to share with you, I knew EXACTLY what story I wanted to tell you, but I first had to do a little digging - physical digging - to find a specific notebook.  But this wasn’t just any notebook, this was the first journal that I ever had in my adult life.  

You’ve probably heard the story of my infamous breakdown in 2014 and the story about me leaving education for the first time and returning to the classroom in 2015.  And during that time, I was doing a lot of learning about myself and I was sifting through all of these things that had happened in my life to figure out where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do because I had decided that I didn’t want to stay in that burned-out, frustrated, overwhelmed, defeated, helpless state.  

But the date that I want to talk about is January 16, 2016 (I know the date specifically because I have it written down in my notebook).  You see, I had this one friend, Jen (she was my builder-upper), and one day after school, she and I decided to meet up after school one day at Mcdonald's, and the goal of our meeting was to talk about what were some goals that we wanted for ourselves.  Here are some of the goals that I had written down: 

  • Run without knee pain
  • Decide what to do with my career (look for opportunities in education or start my own business) 
  • Reach weight and fitness goals 
  • Communicate better
  • To be on time more often
  • Purchase less and be more mindful
  • To move

I remember sitting there in front of Jen and she shared her goals as well, and the entire time we felt silly having this conversation. And I remember us talking about why this wasn’t silly.  Yes, we were married with kids and careers, but we were also worthy to have goals to want more and different (better) for ourselves.  

I’ve said it before - we aren’t getting better, we aren’t getting better, we’re getting bitter, and I had definitely reached that point where I was feeling bitter about where I was, and it was MY responsibility to determine where I was going next. 

I’m happy to report that I’ve actually met a lot of these goals. And since then - six years later - I’ve grown in many ways and I’ve set new goals for myself, and that’s what I want for you.  I want you to know that you are worthy of setting goals for yourself and you are worthy of the hard work that it takes.  And sometimes, even though we’ve been working towards a goal, our goals will shift.  These goals that we set for ourselves are ours, no one else's, and that’s what matters most of all.  

In today’s hack, we’re going to get clear about what you want for yourself, we’re going to determine what’ll say “Yes” and “No” to help you reach your goals, and then we’re going to set those goals! This is just the beginning!  The goals that you set during this hack don’t have to remain the same, this is just about action breeding more action. It might take weeks, months, or even years to reach your goals, but what we’re doing now is setting a vision for what you want your life to look like and who you want to be. 

On pages 141 to 143 there are some action steps in the What You Can Do Tomorrow that you can choose from, but my two favorites are:

  1. Write it down
  2. Say what you want

Say what you want aloud, pretend like you’ve already achieved it.  This is what Napoleon Hill calls “auto suggestion” or you might know this as manifesting. You see, our brains are wired to seek out the things that we want the most - this is called the Reticular Activating System. 

Next, we are going to move on to the “Blue Print for Full Implementation”.  Once you’ve explored these, I’d actually like you to repeat a practice that we’ve already done - that’s a bid-dreams brain dump. This is actually something that you should do often.  Just take a moment and write down everything that’s on your mind and that you’d like to see come into your life, but this time, I’d like you to think about what you’d like to come into yourself in the next year, next three years, and maybe even within the next 5 years.  

I was actually just having this conversation with a Burned-In Teacher Member the other day.  She’s in the process of going through Burned-In Teacher University and she said, “I’m at that step now where I’m supposed to determine what my goals are and what I’d like to happen in my life, but I’m struggling.” My response to her was, “This is a muscle that you have to continue to work. You have to practice and practice this over and over again.” When you are living on autopilot, which many of us who are struggling with burnout are, building this bank of ideas of what you want to bring into your life will be difficult at first. 

Also, we need to be careful that we are not telling ourselves things that OTHER people want.  It’s a perfectly valid goal to want to remain content teaching second grade or to build better relationships with the people that you work with. Your goals are YOURS, and they are NOT to be compared to anyone else.  

Here are some steps that I’d you to consider when you’re setting your goals:

#1: Consider Your Opportunity Cost

Think about the things that you’re going to say “Yes” to this year and what you’re going to say “No” to. Remember, if it isn’t a HECK YES and will support you in reaching your goals, then it’s a HECK NO!

#2: Reflect on How It’s Going

Reflect on and get really honest about what’s been going well and what hasn’t been going so well.  What hasn’t turned out the way you hoped it would? 

Again, you don’t have to show this to ANYBODY.  This is just for you - you’re having a nice conversation about what you want for yourself in the next year, three years, and maybe in 5 years (if you want to think that far out into the future).  Remember, this doesn’t mean that these goals are written in stone, you are just allowing yourself the space to dream.  And you are going to do this for your personal AND professional goals because we should not just measure our success on how “far we’re getting” or “how high we’re climbing” on that ladder in our careers.  

Now for my FAVORITE step… determining your word of the year

What you’re going to do is go back through all that brain dumping that you’ve done and highlight words that are synonyms with each other.  Think about what words could you come back to if you’re struggling with saying “Yes” or “No” to something.  With your Word-of-the-Year in hand, you can use that as a guide to help you make sound decisions, and don’t forget to turn all your goals into SMART goals! (Check out page 147 for a guide on how to do this!). 

One last thing before I sign off for today…I’m hosting a Meet the Author Event on Monday, August 7th at 8:30 EST.  I’m so excited for this! You’ll get to meet me and other teachers who have read the book.  We’ll share wins and questions and just keep this momentum going! I don’t have anything planned to talk about, it’s just a chance for us to meet face-to-face (I LOVE getting to see the people behind the pages!). Head on over to www.burnedinteacher.com/meet.  You’ll be asked to enter your first name and email address so I know where to send the Zoom link! 

I’m so proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself for doing these hard things that maybe a couple of weeks ago you didn’t think you were worthy of or that were possible for you. But now I hope that you understand that you are WORTHY and CAPABLE of having dreams outside of where you are now. 

I’m excited to see you next week as we dive into Hack #7: Initiate Lasting Change! 


  1. Do a Big-Dreams-Braindump (Yes again!) Write down all the things that you want for your life - both professionally and personally -  in the next one, three, or even 5 years! 
  2. Make your goals obtainable by turning them into SMART Goals. (check out p. 147 in Hacking Teacher Burnout)
  3. Determine your Word-of-the-Year! Write this word down and keep it close to use as motivation when things get hard or when you need clarity.  





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