Following Through

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

Hey everyone! Hope it's been a great summer. I plan to keep writing blog posts (find past posts here) with my personal thoughts on school, productivity, and... life?? Pretty much anything I think you'll find useful.

The new school year is around the corner. This week we're all probably making grand claims to ourselves about how we'll work harder, get all A's, get fit, be a better friend, etc. It's human nature. It's also human nature to drop these plans at the first sign of struggle (new years resolutions, anyone?). Here are a couple thoughts to help you follow through on your goals this year.

It starts with taking some time in your planning process. Dedicate a couple hours, maybe over multiple sessions, to thinking through the upcoming semester and year. Start by reflecting on your past year and summer break - what did you do well, and not do well? Write this stuff down. I prefer a pen and paper (research suggests handwriting has a whole host of benefits) but computer is ok too.

During this process, set some goals. The key to goal-setting is that they are baby steps. Most people suffer from being overly ambitious and then with no hope of achieving their goal give up entirely. It's not about the goal itself... the key is to start building confidence that you can hit your goals, regardless of what they are, until over time you are a goal-crunching machine, planning and executing. So start small, aiming for a marginal but meaningful improvement. For example, target getting all B's if you've previously gotten B's and C's.

Next is keeping yourself accountable. You need to develop some kind of habit around checking in on your goals. As you go through the semester, set up a regular time (perhaps weekly, every Sunday evening or Monday morning or something) to spend 20 minutes journaling and checking your status on a goal. What are your biggest risks ("78% right now in calculus")? What can you do to mitigate that risk ("go to office hours weekly until I'm at an 82%")? Then, next journal checkin time, see if you took the new steps you planned, and if things are still not good, plan more steps. Once again, go easy on yourself, just make progress every week/month.

Sometimes you'll fall behind. When that's the case, don't use it as en excuse to give up. Achieving progress towards your goal is still important even if you miss it. The key isn't the end result, but rather the commitment to keep consistently working at it. You just need to improve.

With Penji, we have a goal of being live at 10 campuses by the end of Fall semester. This is going to be crazy as we're really only active at two now. I have developed the habit of doing daily, weekly, and monthly journalling checkins to keep myself on track which has been incredibly helpful. These allow me to realize when we're on track, or not on track, to reaching our long term goals, and then adjust accordingly (adjust our strategy, or sometimes adjust goals that are turning out to be unrealistic). We may not succeed to the level of 10 campuses, but I know that if I don't let up on that goal-post and regularly check in to ensure we're doing all we can, we'll still make a meaningful growth stride and I'll be happy.

Have a great first week!




January 12, 2020

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