New Year Tips for Setting and Accomplishing Goals

December 30, 2022By: Pedro Olvera, PhD

It’s hard to believe that 2023 is upon us. The best thing about a new year is the opportunity to look back and forward simultaneously. Many take this opportunity to make pledges or resolutions to incorporate new habits or drop old ones. Interestingly, a study demonstrated only 55% of those that make New Year’s resolutions are successful in sustaining them. So, as we begin 2023, let’s not consider resolutions but rather small goals that can significantly impact our lives.

Reflect on the past year

It’s easy to want to jump head-first into the new year and start working toward your goals. But it’s difficult to move forward without reflection. When was the last time we just sat back and thought about our big and small accomplishments? Or think about unmet goals, dreams, or desires. This new year may be the time for us to slow down and reflect on that. Reflection is looking inward instead of outward and helps develop knowledge of ourselves. Aristotle famously said, “Knowing thyself is the beginning of all wisdom.”  Studies have demonstrated that inward reflection can help build our emotional intelligence, help us cope with life’s challenges, and accomplish our goals. Sample questions to get you started on this journey of self-reflection include: 

  • Are there things that I should release?
  • Is my time being put to good use?   
  • Do I demonstrate that I value my relationships? 
  • Am I meeting my goals? 

Reflect on your achievements, big and small, both personally and with each of your students. 

Recognize your students’ achievements from the past year

As educators, there is no greater feeling than seeing our students succeed. When students can recognize their successes, great things happen. For example, studies have consistently demonstrated that students that feel successful are more motivated and have better self-regulation skills. These improvements result in better attendance, higher grades, and improved behavior. Professor Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford University noted that students need to learn in a state of “positive emotion.”  Learning in such a state reinforce that students need to feel safe, supported, and nurtured in learning.

Encourage your students to reflect on their learning. Ask them what they’re most proud of from last year, and recognize the achievements you’ve witnessed. This is a great way to start the year on the right foot. Sample questions for your students can include:

  • Reflecting on your learning and thinking, what makes you proud? 
  • What challenges did you encounter this past year that you overcame? 
  • What lessons have you learned from your failures this past year?
  • What learning goals do you have for the new year? 

Set your own goals for the new year

Setting goals is beneficial both personally and professionally. Simply put, goals help us stay focused and motivated and provide direction in our lives. Goals help us see the big picture without becoming overwhelmed or discouraged. In essence, goals are the little steps to help us achieve the bigger picture. Setting and accomplishing goals can positively impact your mental health by reducing stress and boosting your mood. You don’t have to achieve big lofty goals to feel the benefits. They can be small, doable goals. A great way to help you accomplish these goals is by visualizing the goal being achieved and anticipating how you will feel. Sample questions that you can ask yourself as you select personal goals: 

  • What do you want to achieve as a teletherapist? 
  • What are your biggest goals, and what are your intentions for the year? 
  • Where can I make the biggest difference for my students and myself?
  • What are reasonable timelines to make my goals happen? 

Lay them out now and revisit them throughout the year. Once you accomplish these goals, remember to celebrate and reward yourself.  

Set goals with each of your students for the new year

Students also need to learn how to set goals for themselves. Research has consistently shown that students who set goals can see positive effects on academic performance. Working with their teachers as partners on their learning journey, students who set reasonable yet rigorous goals have a means of receiving immediate feedback on what they are doing well and where they need to improve. This type of immediate feedback helps the students take ownership of their learning because they set their own goals and have a sense of personal accountability to themselves and their teachers. Sample questions for your students can include:

  • What do you want to achieve? 
  • Where do you want to see yourself in a few months? By the end of the school year? By the end of the year? 
  • What academic skills would you like to improve? 
  • What do you need to do to accomplish your goals? 

They may need your help setting these goals, which is an excellent opportunity to turn them into a lesson. As mentioned above, all goals should be reviewed regularly, and remember to celebrate and reward the students for accomplishments.  

Set the tone for the year

The year’s first month can set the tone for the entire year. Setting goals is the easy part; sustaining momentum through completion is the hard part. However, if you start off on the right foot, accomplishing the goals that you have set for yourself can be within your reach. Dr. Charles R. Snyder, a positive psychologist and proponent of hope theory, highlights two obstacles that sabotage us from accomplishing our goals: 1) not believing in ourselves and 2) not articulating pathways to achieve them. Hope theory posits that motivation is the energy that will propel us to preserve toward a goal, even with don’t believe that we can accomplish it. To that end, Dr. Snyder offers the following strategies to help us remain motivated through the year to achieve our goals: 

  • Connect every goal to a “why.” For example, “I want to______so that I can____.” 
  • Start small and start now. 
  • Break down your goals. 
  • Remove obstacles before you begin. 
  • Celebrate your wins. 

Final Thoughts

Decide how you want your next year to look and set intentions early. Let your students and their parents know your intentions and goals for the year.  As you head into the new year, we want to ensure you’re fully prepared. If you’re a VocoVision teletherapist, take advantage of our toolkit resources and consider refreshing your session activities. If you’re not a VocoVision teletherapist, now is an excellent time to make a transition.

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