Don’t Just Wish. Do! : The Importance of Goal Setting

I strive to always have a positive outlook professionally and personally. I know energy is contagious and a negative attitude does nothing to solve problems (only enhances them.) At the same time, my positive energy also does nothing to solve problems or carry out my goals. It is a start if I am not just using my positivity to fantasize about my goals.

“In fact, science tells us that fantasizing may undermine a goal because the positive fantasy tricks your mind into thinking that your wish already came true.” – Character Lab

What Should I Do Instead?

I have been researching goal setting and various applications that I can use (as well as my colleagues and students) that prompt action not just vision. One of the best strategies I found is Dr. Gabriele Oettingen’s (author Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation) powerful method called WOOP. 

  • WOOP: “a visualization technique that incorporates this sense of reality: It helps people to gain insight into their wishes and to clearly identify the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing these wishes. It is an evidence-based self-regulatory strategy that people can use effectively on their own to change their behavior across everyday life (e.g., health, school, work, play, relationships).”

The WOOP app is tailored to support you in your daily life. While using the app, you will learn how to set goals effectively within different periods and different life domains (health, business, and interpersonal). The app allows you to save your goals and observe your progress. Through teaching you the WOOP strategy, the app empowers you to sort out what is important in your day-to-day routine and to actually do and achieve what you really want.

One of my goals as an edtech coordinator is to collaborate more with my school community and PLN. Rather than just thinking it will happen eventually, I have established goals/wishes. Here is an example below:

  • Wish: Blog once a week and ask for feedback.
  • Outcome: By sharing my post, my network will help me generate more ideas and ways to improve.
  • Obstacle: It is often hard to find time to sit and write out my thoughts.
  • Plan: I will dedicate a time every Friday morning to reflect on my week and look ahead!

The WOOP app takes you through this process. If you move through a section too fast, it will prompt you to take time to really reflect on that outcome or obstacle.

I think this process is just as important for our students to experience and use as well. I believe it will help our learners reflect and set meaningful goals. When students set their own goals and have a plan to achieve them, they feel empowered and successful.  Angela Duckworth and Donald Kamentz have created The Character Lab to help you incorporate the WOOP method into your classroom. It also has many additional resources on discovering the range of soft skills students can leverage to excel in the classroom and in life. In my opinion, there needs to be more of an emphasis on soft skills in today’s classrooms. These are the essential skills our students need to excel and succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.

Google has also incorporated updates in their application to include  goal setting as well. Google Calendar now enables users to not only add events but to create and set timelines goals. Google Keep also provides many opportunities for collaborative goal setting.
The key takeaway is that the importance is not in what method you choose- Whether it is WOOP, Google or any goal setting resource- but it is in the outcome that comes from their use. What is going to take you from the positive outlook to realizing the challenges, making plans and accomplishing your goals.

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