How to set personal, achievable targets

As teachers, we’re always talking about targets. Professionally we have them, our schools all have them (on everything from pupil attainment to recycling), out students have them – but do you have them personally?

Do you think about target setting or are you just focused on getting through the mountain of things you need to?

I think it’s important that you do, or years will pass and you won’t have made progress towards those things that you really want. Which I suppose is fine if you are where you really want to be… so if you’re perfect – stop reading now!

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I’m going to share with you structures I use to set targets. They help me break down the big things I want to achieve into yearly, quarterly and weekly goals, which I can then work towards on a daily basis.

The really simply target setting pyramid

This is great if you have one big goal you want to achieve. I’ve used this with students, with friends who’ve needed advice (I’ve tried not to be condescending) even for my own quick planning.

Here’s an example I’ve filled in for writing a novel. At the top you put the big goal, which seems unachievable at first, then that’s broken down into all the smaller steps below.

Pyramid novel writing example

Download the planning pyramid here. Print it and have a go!

Multiple long-term target setting spreadsheet

Sometimes the thing you’re planning may be more complicated or you might have multiple targets that are coming together over the next couple of years. I use this spreadsheet – which I know is nerdy – but it helps me keep what I want to achieve in focus (my friends totally take the mick out of me for this, so maybe keep it quiet).

Along the left-hand yellow column, you put the overall aim or strand (writing, buying a house, becoming a headteacher). That’s then broken down into annual targets and again into quarterly ones. Some targets you’ll achieve in one year, some may take five.

Long term target setting

Download my long-term target setting spreadsheet here.

Reflecting on your targets

When making targets it’s just as important to reflect on them. I schedule a reminder in my calendar to do this every three months – that’s why the boxes on the spreadsheet are in three-month blocks. I’ll look through what I’ve done, what I haven’t and what I have to do next.

I also refer to this in my journal. I’ve written about how to journal here. As I’m writing I can relate directly to the target I’ve been working towards, which helps keep things focused.

What are your targets for the next year?

How will you make sure you keep them?


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