It’s a month into the new year. How is it going? By now, you may be getting a clearer picture on whether the goals you’ve set for the new year are realistic or perhaps a little more difficult than you expected. We homeschool by the calendar year, so it’s easy to get all excited about the new year and new school year that I can easily set my goals a little too high. I start out with these HUGE ideas, and by the end of January, I’m already burnt out! Can you relate?
Now I am not saying “don’t set goals” or even saying you shouldn’t set goals that are challenging, but as homeschoolers, we have a unique set of challenges because everything going on in our lives affects our homeschool as well. It can be easy to set aspiring and lofty goals and forget that sometimes “life happens,” and we end up feeling defeated or disappointed. It’s not a fun feeling!
You pictured climbing a mountain, but are having a hard time making it over a hill. Setting realistic goals is important for a successful new year!
Set Both Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
When the new year is upon us, it’s easy to set the long-term goals for the new year. Although setting yearly goals is important, it is hard to track progress and sometimes feels daunting when you’re just getting started. What I am doing is setting a yearly goal and then breaking it down into more attainable goals – monthly, weekly, and even daily. This helps me to see the big picture and plan a route to reach the ultimate goal. It also helps to track progress along the way and make any necessary changes.
Many times we go into the new year knowing where we’ve been – what we accomplished last year and on what we need to improve. Sometimes we’re not quite sure! Reaching goals is all about endurance, and if you burn yourself out too soon you’re more likely to give up on your goals completely. Perhaps you want to schedule more field trips this year. Jumping into one field trip per week may seem realistic but perhaps you are coming from hardly going on any. In that case, it would easily burn you out.
Start small. You can always increase your goals as you go. In the field trip scenario – start with one every other week, and if you find this is a good routine, you can choose to stick with it or even build upon it. Remember, though, it is OK to go back down as well. Find what works for you and don’t give up!
Obviously going into the new year we don’t always know what will happen. The unexpected happens all the time. I know we had a rough year last year with many circumstances we surely couldn’t foresee. The best we can do is consider circumstances we do know about and can plan for and leave a little wiggle room for the rest.
We, personally, school from the beginning of January through Thanksgiving and take breaks as needed rather than setting specific breaks unless we know there is a special event or vacation planned. This way we have some time to work with and still fit in a full school year.
Setting goals is always better when they have been set prayerfully. It’s easy to set goals based on what we see other homeschoolers doing whether in our local groups or online, but every family is different, and God’s plan for every family is different. Before you jump into lofty plans and ideas consider His path for your family. Spend some time together as a family praying for guidance.
Do you feel like you’re on the right path for the new year?