How McDonald's and A New Friend Can Change Your Life

Let's get something straight... McDonald's itself didn't change anything, but the restaurant provided a space for a now good friend and I to lay our stresses and goals on the line and start making progress that has changed both of our lives. I can't speak for my friend, when it comes to her feelings about that night, but I can tell you, I come back to it often.

With the beginning of a new school year starting soon, I have been thinking a lot about goals. So much, in fact, that I thought I would tell you the story of what happened that put me on the track of getting my shit together and deciding what I wanted for myself.

We had talked for weeks about getting together to talk about our goals and make some plans and, like most things, it got pushed back and pushed back. It finally happened on a really snowy late-January night and I almost didn't go, because I was at a low of lows. I thought that talking over hot chocolate and making empty goals at that cliche' time of year was going to be a waste of sleep for both of us. But, I wanted to get to know this person better and I figured, "What the heck, if nothing else, I'll help her." I did genuinely want to help.

We had decided, before we met, that we would come with a notebook and a list of things that we wanted for ourselves, either personally or professionally. I could have written a freaking book of a list of all of the things that I wanted to change for myself. I was so unhappy with my career. (This was January of 2016, so after I had gone back into teaching after quitting, a year before, to work at a non-profit, which failed six months later.) I wanted to do something other than teach and I felt all alone, like I was the only person who was struggling with burnout and that I couldn't talk about it. Ever. But, I made my list. It turned out, I had other things on that list that added up to my unhappiness at work. There were a lot of things that I needed to work out, including acknowledging that it was up to ME to do something!

My goals/planning notebook. I take it everywhere with me and it now contains all of the progress I have made as I have decided what I want for myself professionally. It's messy, not fancy, and all mine. 

I'll share with you my list in a minute, but the reason I am posting this has more to do with the fact that I had to decide. I had to make the decision to become my own hero. No one was going to save me from the misery that I had chosen to wallow in. I was a self-pity machine. The universe was against me. It was everyone else's fault that I was so sad and couldn't quit crying. Or so I thought.

Teachers, administrators, (insert your title here), we have to stop living for everyone else's goals. We are constantly pushed and pulled in all directions. Pushed to do things we don't want to do, because they are a waste of our time, and pulled back whenever we find something that we are really passionate about and told, "No, wait. You can't do that right now." There will NEVER be a perfect time to make a change. Ever. If you're comfortable, you have to make a change. That's the only way to grow. I had become comfortable in my discomfort. It was easier for me to cry and wallow than to take charge for a long time. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!

-We Made SMART Goals-

So, here is my list. While my friend and I talked, she insisted that we make these SMART Goals.

-My Goals Were Simple and Multi-Dimensional All At the Same Time-

Obviously you can tell what goals were really important to me. 

I am happy to report that I have reached five of these goals. A few of them were reached, but have evolved, so I am still working to reach the new goals that have been born from my first ones. 

This was the first time that I had ever sat down and planned goals for my life. It makes me curious of how many other teachers haven't taken those steps. Ahead of the game, I was ready to make the changes I needed to make. They involved calling doctors, putting a house on the market, moving, getting out of my comfort zone, trying new things, FAILING, trying again, and I am such a happier person for that cup of hot chocolate and the conversation that we enjoyed that night. 

-The Blue Sky Brain Dump- The Next Step In Goal Setting-

Now, if you look carefully, you will see that part of the "Decide what I want to do! (Career) is that maybe start my own business? My friends, meet the infancy of Burned-In Teacher. From that night until April, I knew what I wanted to do, yet, couldn't find my niche. That all changed, of course when I went to GAfE the following April. 

Entrepreneurship is something that I have been learning a lot about in the last couple of years. I am part of an amazing community called Fizzle and can excitedly say that I am part of the Google Innovator Tribe. If you are interested in hearing about "The Blue Sky Brain Dump" that took me to the next level of goal setting, go to or check out their podcast.. I thought I would share it with you. It, of course, is geared toward business planning, however, that doesn't invalidate it for planning your career and personal goals. I promise.  I am learning that no matter what advice you get, you can always apply it to any part of your life. 

This link will take you to the podcast page of Fizzle and there are worksheets and a summary of the podcast below it. It was such an AWESOME eye-opener for me. Listen to it. You won't regret it.

After following Stephanie's advice, I have a whole list of very ambitious goals that I am working hard to reach. I am so excited to see how far I have come in one year, as I continue to check back in with these goals! I hope you have the same positive experience as I have had. 

What I want for you from this post is to ask yourself this question, "What goals do I have for myself?" If you are really unhappy with the way things are, you need to take a serious inventory of how often you have thought about your growth. You are in control. Become your own hero and take the steps necessary to make yourself happy in your career and in life!

Burn on!

Amber HarperComment