All the Small Things

Most schools will have already set their goals for the 2020 school year or if not, you would be getting pretty close. I reflect back to my time as a Principal and quite often I would set BIG and ambitious goals. Working closely with my Leadership Team, we would then follow up by making BIG plans for achieving these goals. 

We would always walk into the school year fired up with a clear direction and plan.

As we know, setting goals are important because it helps us stay on track and it gives us something to aim for. It also important because it helps us measure our progress.

Despite my good intentions to stay on track and achieve my goals, my greatest challenge was that I found the school environment so busy I would rarely get a chance to sit down and measure our progress. Setting goals for 12 months in advance, or in some cases 4 years in advance would often feel ‘out of reach’ and I would often say to myself ‘I’ll have a look at that next week’.  

Although I wasn’t proud of it, sometimes measuring the progress of my goals became a ‘box ticking’ exercise at the end of the year because I was out of time…or just exhausted.

That was until I changed my approach to goal setting. Despite the importance of these grand goals and detailed action plans to achieve success, I often underestimated the small things that created and produced the most value, especially in the short term.

It’s the small things that sometimes take very little time and effort but can have a significant impact and in most cases they contribute to the bigger goal. 

If our school goal was to ‘Build Strong Relationships’  then an example of the small things would be to make a positive phone call home for the student who is often in trouble, or one of my favourites and if you could spare the time, go and watch some of your students play their chosen sport after school or on the weekend. 

It was when I started doing the small things that I found the big goals achievable and meaningful. At the start of every week I’d jot down a small thing I could do that would contribute to something bigger. The small things weren’t captured or documented in an Action Plan, Annual Implementation Plan or a Strategic Plan. They weren’t measured by growth or results. They were just little actions that helped me to make my week more rewarding.

When I started doing this, I found our goals became realistic.

Think about a time where you have focused on a small thing and unexpectedly it has had a big impact. 

It’s important that we make big plans for our big goals as it keeps our school community on track and working towards a common outcome. After all, that’s what we are measured by.

It’s equally important that we live for today by doing the small things.

When your schools sits down to establish long-term goals, take a breath, sit down and think about one small thing that you can do today or this week that could lead to a big impact.