My 2014 Resolution Challenge Part One


I’ve been poking around on the internets for ideas on how exactly to best come up with resolutions AND keep them in 2014.  I found a lot of challenges I’m interested in – reading challenges, fitness challenges, etc. but I want to have well-rounded resolutions that provide me with a balanced life and gives me some things that I’ve been wanting in my life.  So, I’ve thought about having a monthly challenge.  But, I tried that back in 2011 and it failed miserably.  So, then I thought maybe I should do a 52 week challenge.  But, I was a little intimidated with coming up with 52 things to do by January 1 and I want to have something well-planned when the year begins.  So, I’ve decided to have “focus areas” and each week, I will dedicate at least three hours (I admit the three hours is a totally random amount of time – but, it seemed doable – 180 minutes a week, divided up however it works out) to EACH of the focus areas.  That way, I have balance on a weekly basis.  So, you’re probably wondering what my focus areas are going to be.  I am too!  🙂  I am actually going back to an exercise we did in one of my leadership workshops this semester.  The leader of the workshop is a counselor in the student counseling center (not academic counselor, but psychiatric counselor) and her presentation was on prioritization and making good, healthy choices during a busy time (aimed at students, but us fellows were probably equally in need of the message).  She gave us a stack of cards, a little smaller than playing cards, kind of the size of business cards.  On each card was a word with a short description when necessary.  So, here are some examples:

And so it goes.  There are 20 cards.  She first had us go through and “discard” anything that wasn’t in our top concerns.  Then she had us repeat that – obviously, taking into consideration that at first we though all of the things left were “top” concerns.  We did it three or four times until we got down to five or six cards.  So, I’m feeling good about getting down to seven.  And those seven can become my “focus areas”.

If you would like a list of all 20, email me and I will send them to you with the short descriptions.  It is a fantastic exercise to do with family, friends and even workmates to see where different people’s priorities lie.  It also is good for decision-making since you can easily identify your top concerns and make your prioritized to-dos based on that knowledge.

So, tonight I will identify my seven areas and then I hope to continue this post in Part Two by identifying some specific action ideas/steps I can identify for each of those areas.  So, there is a priority and a to-do list based on that priority.  Some, I am sure, I will have many to-dos based on, others I may only have a few that will be repeated over and over again.  I’m kind of looking forward to this as it will help me to really be specific about my resolutions!   See you in Part Two!


Management Monday #2 – Motivation


Last night I made my first attempt at being a better “manager” or “leader” of people.  At our weekly team meeting/class, I did a get-to-know you activity (which made me realize there were still people in the class who did not know some of the coaches’ names…in week 10) and then did a motivational activity.  The motivational activity focused on expectations.  We did student expectations of themselves, their peers and their coaches and also did coach expectations of themselves, their peers and their students.  It was not necessarily revealing as none of the information really surprised me, but I do think it was a good exercise to get the expectations out in the open and communicated.  My plan is to now make a poster/sign of the repeated expectations and post it in the squad room.  I think it was helpful if for no other reason but to make students feel heard and respected.

My next idea for motivation I’ve had in the hopper since the beginning of the year, but never implemented.  I think now is the right time.  I got the idea off of Pinterest and I really like it a lot.  It is simple, but meaningful and it is self-generating.  It is the Motivation Wall and I am going to put different sizes of colored construction paper and colored pens in a box by the bulletin board and let the students go at it.  I love the idea of seeing what they come up with for motivating themselves and others!  I will try to remember to take a picture once it gets rolling.


Management Monday #1

Warehouse management teamwork

Well, I am once again switching up my blog schedule.  I used to have Munch n Move Mondays, but let’s face it…on Mondays I often don’t munch or move much (other than coffee and standing for long hours for my classes).  So, I never had anything to say.  Really, I should probably name it marathon Monday and just list the things I have to do each Monday, because it seems never-ending.  But, enough of that…the blog schedule:  I decided that I am having some MAJOR issues managing people and things.  It isn’t the first time.  I think I’ve kind of been thrown into this managing thing without much in the way of training or advice.  I have TA coaches under me to manage, but in addition to that small group, I also have to manage all the extraneous stuff – paperwork; travel planning; students; relationships between the TAs and the students; relationships between the TAs and other TAs; relationships between students and other students; my grading; the myriad of extra activities in which I’ve chosen to be involved.  And that is just at work.  At home, I have my husband’s travel and work away from home schedule; the bills; all household paperwork; cleaning the house; paperwork; medicines for my daughter (and now my dog); feeding my daughter (and myself and the dog); relationships with my family members; relationship with my husband; relationships with friends; scheduling fun things to do for myself and my family; scheduling holiday travel; planning for visits to family; purging stuff from the house; repairs.  It has become all too much for me.  I am exhausted.  I feel like a failure in LITERALLY every area of my life right now.  I have a headache the size of a watermelon and I feel like I haven’t really truly enjoyed a full 24 hour period in ages.

So, I’ve decided to focus on Management on Mondays.  It may be management in the traditional sense of the word – managing people at a work place.  But, it also may be time management or stress management.  It may be work/life balance management.  Email management.  Hell, I may even talk about weight management just to harken back to the Munch n Move Mondays!  But, probably not.

For the first post, after the day I’ve had, I feel like I need to focus on people management.  My life sees people come and sees people go constantly.  I have TAs that coach for me for two years.  I have some people who stick around to help out, but most move on after two years.  So, I really need to put some more effort into training my peeps fast so they can get working with students quickly and without much supervision (because I can barely stay on paperwork as it is, let alone if I am micromanaging coaches all the time).  But, I’ve found that each person requires a different level of training and a different focus when it comes to training.  But, now I’m thinking that maybe that isn’t true and maybe I just need to micromanage a bit from the start to allow them more freedom in the end.  Because right now, my team is in a major meltdown.  We’ve gone from something like 26 team members the first week of school to MAYBE 13 team members now.  Some of that is typical attrition.  But, some of it is just that no one seems to be having a good time or bonding or even really enjoying the experience this year – students and TAs alike.  So, I’m thinking I may have to take this post-mid-term chance to shake things up a bit.  But, what to do?

From the little reading I’ve done, I would say that our team members lack a feeling of engagement.  So, I think I’m going to do some research this week on how to foster that and then figure out how to make sure the TAs are included in building that engagement.  I will fill in here next week with the ideas and what I’m implementing.