Aug 12, 2023

 Setting Manageable Personal and Career Goals for a Fulfilling Teaching Journey

Today's episode is all about setting manageable personal and career goals for the upcoming school year so you can thrive both inside and outside the classroom this school year. As teachers, we often find ourselves caught in a relentless cycle of to-do lists, losing sight of our own well-being and interests. There’s a fear that our “summer self” is going to be replaced by our “teacher self” which breeds anxiety and feelings of dread. By incorporating personal and career goals into our planning, we can create a more balanced and fulfilling academic journey, and I’m going to share three powerful strategies to set meaningful goals and maintain your happiness throughout the year.  I'll also reveal four steps to dream even BIGGER this school year and embrace your long-term aspirations as you continue on your journey toward a fulfilled and sustainable teaching career. 

But before we dive in, let me tell you that this is the FIRST time I've recorded a YouTube video as part of the Burned-In Teacher Podcast! This podcast is all about doing new things, and I’m all about doing new things with you.  I’d really appreciate it if you’d head on over to my YouTube channel and subscribe so you never miss an episode! 

Let’s dive into how to set manageable goals this school year. 

#1: Focus on how you want to FEEL As a teacher with 15 years of experience, I used to start each new school year with a long list of tasks I wanted to DO, and I was so consumed with “doing” that I realized that I was losing sight of why I got into teaching in the first place as well as forgetting that I have interests outside of education.

So, before you think about what you want to DO and accomplish this school year, stop and think about how you want to FEEL. Do you want to feel relaxed? Calm? Happy? Or maybe you want to feel as energized as you did during the summer? Those feelings don't have to disappear just because summer is over and a new school is starting! 

#2: Identify what makes you feel the way you want and integrate those activities into your schedule. Think about the things you did during the summer that made you feel relaxed, energized, or happy. What can you do on day one of the school year - or even day zero, before school even starts - to ensure you continue doing those things throughout the year?

It’s important to know that your brain might resist thinking this way at first, saying it's impossible to continue to do those things once the school year started, but that's just an old belief. It is possible to honor how you want to feel by keeping the activities that support you in feeling that way front and center.  This is where step #3 comes in. 

#3: Set boundaries to protect your feelings and prioritize what matters most. Saying “No” can be challenging, especially when you want to say “Yes” to please others. But you have to take care of yourself through radical self-care. Remember the concept of opportunity cost: when you say “Yes” to something, you're saying “No” to something else (and vice versa). So, make sure you're saying “Yes” to the things that align with your desired feelings and “No” to things that don't.

Now, I told you that I was going to share with you four action steps you can take to dream even BIGGER this school year!  They are: 

  1. Start with a “Big Dreams Brain Dump” -  think about what you want to achieve in the future, beyond this school year. Dream about what you'll do next summer or during winter break.
  2. From the “Big Dreams Brain Dump” you just did, identify what you’d like to accomplish in the next year and even in the next three years.
  3. Write these goals in SMART form - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, if you want to become a robotics coach, make a plan with specific milestones. For a video on SMART goals, click here. 
  4. Lastly, plan the first steps toward your goals. Breaking your goals down into smaller action steps and tasks will help you maintain your enthusiasm and avoid the feeling of being on a hamster wheel in the middle of the school year. For more on this, check out this video. 

Remember, setting manageable goals will help you avoid burnout and maintain your enthusiasm throughout the school year.

Thank you so much for being here with me for this episode! I want to remind you that the path to a truly fulfilling teaching career is within your reach, and it all begins with setting the right goals and prioritizing your happiness. I believe in your abilities and know that with the right approach, you can create a wonderful and rewarding journey as an educator. Keep up the great work!


Call to Action: Things You Can Do Tomorrow 

  1. Identify how you want to FEEL this school year.
  2. Write down the things that make you feel that way. 
  3. Make time for these activities by creating boundaries to protect your time. 


Resources Mentioned in This Episode 



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