Tag: goal setting

It’s Not About the Destination

It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

I am sure you have heard these statements before. Recently, I was in a yoga class and the teacher said to lower your head towards the floor. Then he said, it’s not a destination, just think about how you might head that way. Hmm, I thought. This statement resonated with me. 

I used to function under the premise of working by setting a goal and achieving it. Then I would set a new goal and achieve that. Almost like jumping hurdles in a track race. I moved along in my career and in parenthood like that for many years. I would go through the routine for work and home day by day, accomplishing tasks and meeting goals.


Now further along in my career and in parenting with two children over twenty, I do things a bit differently.

Start Small to Make Big Change

In the last few years, my son has become an avid climber. He loves to scale the indoor climbing walls as well as make his way up to some actual mountains. Of course, I found this terrifying as his mother. One look at the heights and steep climbs and I was scared. He took me once to an indoor climbing gym and I watched as he took one small part of the wall at a time, sometimes trying the same foothold and spot multiple times. I found this to be an intriguing and valuable lesson. One mistake I often make in my life is that when I want to make a change, I start with a BIG idea or vision and leap in with lots of energy trying to get directly to my end goal. As I watched my son practicing securing each foothold, I realized that he was teaching me something important.

Balancing Effort and Ease

Balancing effort and ease is one of the paradoxes in leadership and in life. I first heard this phrase in yoga class. Recently, I have developed a yoga routine that has been helpful for me not only in terms of my body but also my mind and spirit. I often feel that the things I learn from my yoga teachers are applicable to life and leadership. This lesson of balancing effort and ease is one of many I am currently learning. 

Balancing effort and ease is one of the phrases that the teachers often mention when holding a difficult position or trying a new pose. As my teacher explained, the challenge should be enough to be interesting and require a certain amount of effort and still, you should be able to breathe and have an awareness of what is happening. When we find the middle path, we find success.

How can you have both effort and ease?

Self Care is Not Selfish

Self-care is not selfish. Growing up I learned a different message. As a child in an immigrant family, I was raised watching parents who worked tirelessly for the good of others, building and supporting our small but growing Sri Lankan community in New Jersey. My parents did not take time for haircuts, manicures, exercise, or even an indulgent moment with a hot cup of tea and a good movie was rare. When I was a young mom and teaching full time, the last thing I spent time and resources on was self-care. I hustled to do my best at my job and take care of my family. I did indulge in the occasional haircut, soaking in every moment of the luxurious hair wash and scalp massage. Although when I returned home, I worked extra hard to cook, clean, and spend time with my kids. I almost felt guilty for getting a haircut, for taking care of myself, and for having time alone.

Intention or Intuition?

Which is more helpful when making decisions, using your intuition, or grounding yourself in your intention? Let’s define intuition as your ‘gut’ feelings, which are usually based on your past experiences and personal values. Let’s define intention as your grounded purpose or mission. I believe intention can also have its roots in what you value. Which strategy do you use when making decisions, intuition or intention? Do you lean on your experiences and your gut feelings when making a decision? Do you ground yourself in your original purpose and mission when making a critical decision? For example, when it comes to hiring in schools, we often decide to go with our ‘gut‘ feelings about a candidate: intuition. Yet, when we take the time to have an intentional process that honors the mission and values of the school and takes into account possible biases, and includes multiple voices, we may find ourselves with the right candidate for the position. 

How Deep is Your Bench?

How deep is your bench? 

I am usually the last person to use a sports metaphor but it actually works well here. To have a deep bench means to have a significant number of effective people on your team. This is something you should evaluate intentionally and periodically. 

Having a strong team ensures better collaboration, decision-making, problem-solving, and ultimately better results. When you don’t have a strong team, you may find yourself trying to put out fires that others should be handling, not using your time effectively. 

First, evaluate your bench, your team.

These are some possible indicators that your bench needs some strengthening, 

  • Are you taking on too many tasks yourself?
  • Do you find your team members need your input on every decision they make?
  • Are you attending lots of meetings that you may not need to attend?
  • Do you have to be always present for efficient and effective work to be accomplished?

Setting Meaningful Intentions

Summer is the time to set your intentions for the new school year. When the hallways are quiet and the classrooms are empty, reflect and create intentions for your team that will articulate your work for the upcoming year. Reflection is the first step. Take time to look back before you look ahead on the challenges and successes of the year. Then, create two or three intentions to guide your work.

How do I set meaningful intentions?

Setting meaningful intentions takes time. Strategic work is thoughtful, long-term, and can shift culture. In schools, strategic work should always center student growth and be grounded in the school mission.

  • Center students. Ask yourself: What is best for students? Keep your intentions grounded in this central idea.
  • Keep your school mission, vision, and values as the foundation.
  • What are the areas in your school or your team that need improvement? Make a list.
  • What themes do you see emerging in your list?


Traditions usually uphold our history and are connected to strong memories. They help us remember people, places, and events and have the opportunity to give us a sense of belonging and community. Traditions are familiar and can bring comfort, pointing to the passing of time. 

In schools, we have many traditions at this time of year: moving up ceremonies, graduations, retirements, and more. We celebrate the successes of our students, faculty, and staff while engaging in traditions and rituals to show the passing of time. This is yet another time of transition.

Should traditions change as our communities change? Many of our schools don’t look the way they did at their founding. This is a good thing. Change is essential. Sometimes there are opportunities to bring new life to long-standing traditions in a way that honors the past as well as acknowledges the present. How do we do this? We begin with reflection as these are big decisions.

Hope is a Plan!

Conventional wisdom says that hope is not a plan. I disagree. Hope is most definitely a plan. Cultivating hope is a skill that we need to practice and develop, and hope is especially needed when facing hardship. This is a time globally, locally, and in our workplaces of crisis. Hope has agency and purpose. It encourages a perspective that can help us see possibilities and choices. Hope, as a skill modeled by leadership, can lead to increased engagement and better health.

Look at the data and imagine an outcome. The data holds us in realism and the imagining helps us think broadly and deeply about ‘what if’. You have to see some evidence in your world to imagine the possibility. Dr. Jacqueline Mattis, a clinical psychologist from Rutgers University, encourages us to ‘read the room’ and read the past, putting the pieces together to make reasonable expectations in her conversation with Dan Harris on Ten Percent Happier.

Are You Listening?

An essential part of leadership and managing your direct reports is intentional listening. When you listen carefully to your people, you…

  • Learn about the person
  • Build trust with the person
  • Understand more about the content/issue/circumstance
  • Position yourself to collaborate and problem solve
  • Ask better questions that lead to uncovering the real problem
  • Respond instead of react 
  • Realize you might be wrong

These are just some of the advantages of intentional listening. 

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, speaks about various types of approaches to communication in his conversation with Dan Harris on The Ten Percent Happier Podcast. Grant describes the preacher, the politician, the prosecutor, and the scientist. He defines the preacher mode as wanting to persuade because we have already found the truth, the politician is campaigning for approval, the prosecutor mode is about proving the other person wrong and the scientist has a curious approach and wants to learn.