Set the goal!!!

smartcolorswimSport has always meant a lot to me. It has been my most influential source of values, and has greatly determined the kind of person and teacher I am. When I was a young girl, pools were my world as I was an agonist swimmer. I used to train four times a week, sometimes even twice a day (before and after going to school) plus the stress of week-end competitions. However hard, I never complained, or felt like “sinking” under the burden of school or sport effort. Once I set my goals, the only thing I had in mind was to do anything it was in my power to crush my limits, improve my times and when eventually I did it, well, the satisfaction was immense and that moment of bliss unforgettable. It is in that moment that everything becomes meaningful and rewarding and you are eager to set the next goal.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This is how I have been brought up : only hard work and discipline will help you reach your goals and set new others, I know no other recipe that works. That’s why I often talk about sport in this blog, apart from celebrating my husband’s legendary enterprises, of course :D, because I think that is a life lesson that can be easily applied to education with great success. The question is that nowadays, as far as I can see, the new generations don’t seem so focused on their future, hence if you just study for your sense of duty, the reaching of good grades is no longer enough as motivation. That’s why school effort is too often felt like frustrating and homework worthless or unnecessary. If you can’t figure out what your objectives are, whatever you are asked to do is obviously pointless, it is much better to spend your precious time playing with a video game trying to set the highest score.It is a goal after all.

GoalAchievement Highest score, highest score… epiphany!!!!!!

One day I came up with the idea to divide my younger students of English language in two groups, or better in two teams and gave them the glorious names of universities like Oxford and Cambridge, for example. I appointed a team leader for each group, and told them that every grade,every activity would have been transformed into points to be added day after day. At the end of the school year, there would have been a big party to celebrate the winning team with cups, medals, diplomas and a happy summer of course. I had decided to turn myself into a teacher referee, but I soon understood that I had gained an immense power.

goal+setting+5The trap is that everybody wants to win, and once you accept to be part of a team you are no longer responsible for yourself, but for the team as well. If you miss one test, for example, your team will score less and you might be decisive for the final defeat. Everybody wants to be popular, therefore I soon noticed that nobody skipped tests any longer ( I had cunningly explained that even one single point could have been essential for the final victory), but above all everybody wanted to take part in the competitions/tests I did every day. They could be the heroes of the day. Effort had become fun.

They felt the joy of reward and they didn’t even realise they were studying much more than they used to do before. Much more. They just needed a goal.
“If one does not know
To which port one is sailing,
No wind is favorable ”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

35 thoughts on “Set the goal!!!

    • You are right! She has been my teacher for four years and she was a constant source of inspiration to me. In the third year of high school, I belonged to Oxford’s team and we won!! The competition was so motivating, I used to study hard everyday, to give my best just because I had a specific goal: to win the competition (in fact, I was the second classified for the best student, it was a great satisfaction! 🙂 ) She is THE teacher of life, I am lucky to have had such a motivated and caring teacher.

      Now that I am at the university, I miss you so much! My english teacher is sooooo boring, incompetent and I don’t know how to pass the exam.
      I will print this post, it’s a good reminder for me everyday.
      I hope to see you soon,

      • Dear Giorgia what an absolutely beautiful testament you have written. I imagine as you print off the blog post your teacher who penned it will be printing off your comment.Such a pleasure to hear of the results of her creative and innovative teaching.
        I have only met Stefy through blogging however I very much hope we will meet in person her when we travel to Italy this fall.For now I am left with your lovely words echoing in my heart. It seems my instincts about her being fabulous were indeed correct.
        All the very best to you Giorgia!

      • Good morning ladies ( what time is it in Canada?), a glorious morning full of words of appreciation. Ok, you did it, you made me blush 😀 Apart from the nice words, I am glad that you keep on reading me even if you are at university now. Suggest you teacher to divide you in teams, it might work even there 😉 You will do just fine, as usual and you know ( however,don’t forget that English requires the capital letter).
        If you need help you know you can email me.
        Tinkteach 🙂

  1. wonderful and inspiring… I know also from suffering in the past from chronic illness how its important to set ourselves achievable targets/goals, so we can reach them and not allow ourselves to feel defeated…

    Wishing you a wonderful Day, and hope you achieve all your own goals in life. 🙂
    Blessings Sue

  2. Hello Stefy,

    Great post… I love the infographics you have attached at the beginning…

    I enjoyed the way you highlight the value of discipline and satisfying cycle of achievements and rewards.

    I particularly liked these lines:
    “Once I set my goals, the only thing I had in mind was to do anything it was in my power to crush my limits, improve my times and when eventually I did it, well, the satisfaction was immense and that moment of bliss unforgettable. It is in that moment that everything becomes meaningful and rewarding and you are eager to set the next goal”

    Best wishes, Aquileana 😛

    • Thanks a lot for your words of appreciation. As far as I can see from your posts,which are always meditated,profound,carefully built, I guess this life lesson must have been also yours 😉

      • You have guessed well, dear Stefy… A good pupil I still keep on being…
        Thanks for sharing. Best regards, Aquileana 😛

  3. This is a really good post – love it! And so right. Having goals has made all the difference to me. This is a good reminder for me to today – thanks for writing this.

      • Bizarrely, after reading and commenting on this, I’ve just had coffee with a successful sportsman who’s a mate of mine, and he told me how he structured his goals. He also uses the smart goals system. I feel like the universe is pushing me! Will be working on this over the next couple of days (will probably blog about it). I’ll link back to this post if you don’t mind 🙂

  4. This has made me think. Just imagine a soccer match where nobody had got round to erecting the goals, or even any sets of posts or rocks. A lot of fighting for possession, and once you had it you wouldn’t know what to do with it. Crazy as it may seem, I think a lot of human effort is like that!

    • To a large extent this was how football in medieval Britain was played — a huge melee of male parishioners, often stripped to the waist, with a lot of fighting for possession of the pig’s bladder, nominal boundaries to cross for a final win, but scrimmages that could and often did last the whole day long. And a lot of fouling too I suspect to settle old scores — no refereeing in the modern sense!

  5. Being part of a team is so powerful, it really is. It was great that you figured out how to motivate your students! Hopefully they will carry that into other classes where they are the only person on the team. I remember my Dad, who was a science teacher, gave each of us a tiny piece of land in a forest, to cultivate and grow and it was a competition. To see who had the best garden at the end of the season. it was so much fun! What better way to explain photosynthesis and chlorophyll and all that good stuff! hehe. I still remember it.

    • What a lovely recollection. This is the kind of satisfaction you achieve once you have reached your goal. You remember the meaningful episode and have forgotten the effort. Great! 🙂

  6. I believe that having a goal in life is key, and the sooner one finds it the better. Because you do need an external factor a.k.a goal, whatever that goal might be, to push you and to drive you. That goal is the trigger for you to focus, work hard towards it, and enjoy the process while you´re at it.

    Finding the goal, is what most people find hard. And as a teenager is very easy to get distracted with other things and loose your way, and even not as a teenager. So discipline is also key to keep you on track and you don´t fall of the wagon in some strange and dark station.

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