Building Resiliency and Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals

At the beginning of each year, it is important to reflect upon the lessons we learned from the past year and set new goals for the year ahead. For example, to say 2020 was a challenging year is an understatement. It was also a great year to reflect on the lessons learned and showed our students and community how resilient they truly are.

As the Assistant Head of Brown School in Schenectady, NY, this was a lesson we had to continually teach and reinforce to all our students.  Brown School places an emphasis on mindfulness and social emotional learning, so we already speak to our students about problem solving while managing your emotions. But during 2020, it seemed more important than ever.

Life has a way of surprising you, but it is in how we react that we build true resiliency. When faced with a situation in which you have no control, it is important to remember that you have options. While 2020 was a year with many disappointments, it was also a year that allowed us to tap into our creative side and turn lemons into lemonade. We tried to instill this in the children, that even though things had to be different, they could still be awesome. Of course, I also encourage students, or faculty and parents, to give themselves permission to be upset about a loss of traditional things, like graduation or big holiday parties. It is okay to recognize that the alternative will not be perfect. But just as we did with a socially distanced graduation and a Thanksgiving-themed movie day, the key is to adapt to your new reality and create a new solution.

Another piece to being resilient is remembering what you are thankful for, and appreciating the small things. Our school really came together during the pandemic (not physically, of course) and I am so thankful for the parents who showed patience, the students for their adaptability, and the staff for doing whatever they could to make each day as normal and as positive as possible. If there is one thing I know, it is that there is strength in numbers. Building a community around you to prop you up when you’re feeling down, or to be an ear for someone else, ensures we will all get through the challenging times together.

Your chosen community is also who you should go to when you set your goals and intentions for the new year. These are the people who can help you along the way, celebrating your achievements, and reminding you it’s okay if you have setbacks. When we discuss goal setting with our students, we use the S.M.A.R.T. method. This stands for:

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Achievable

R: Relevant

T: Time-Bound

The most important thing to remember when setting a goal is to keep it reasonable. If you set out to reach the moon, you may grow tired before you even leave the ground. Set a specific, attainable goal that can be measured. Break it into smaller chunks, and really appreciate the moment when as mall chunk is achieved. If you finally make it to the moon but didn’t pay any attention to the stars along the way, you may just end up burnt out in space. If you develop patience and resiliency, you will be able to reach your goals and handle anything life throws at you.

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