Dean’s Assembly – Goal Setting

Goal SettingGoal setting is something that we use to help us reach desired destinations. We determine an outcome, something we want to achieve and then we work out the steps we can take to achieve it. One of the ways of thinking about it might be this picture. I want you to think of goal setting as something that makes achievement easier not harder. By determining a goal we can work on finding the best route through. The best route might end up being a short cut because you might address some learning habits as you go that make your achievement easier. It also is a well-trodden path. All your teachers use goal setting and we spent this very morning in professional learning setting our own goals. We are here to help you find the route that will see you in the best possible position and there to help you find your pathway to success.

I’d like today to share with you my own goal setting journey as an example of how it is done. I also want to share this with you because I am very proud of myself. When we succeed at a goal it does make us feel extraordinarily happy and I believe we should be very proud of all our successes and share this when we get the opportunity.

Cambodia JungleMy goal came out of the challenge that happened for me over the summer. I went to South East Asia with 10 senior students and Mr Milmine. Within that month long trip we did a six day trek through the Thailand jungle above Chang Dao with backpacks weighing up to 15kg. My fear was that I might be not fit enough and might end up being slower that the students and hold us up. I’ve never been really tested with my fitness. I’ve always been naturally athletic with a manic metabolism, but with sport I’ve ended up in positions where I don’t necessarily need to run much. I’m a goalie in football, when having to go get the ball I would often complain and try to convince one of my defenders to do the walking.

So in October last year, two and a half months before this trip, I started running. I set out one afternoon and took 45 minutes to run five kms, and stopped at least three times. It was embarrassing. People that I passed looked at me funny, my breathing was erratic and there was so much pain. But I persevered and went out again. Eventually after a couple of weeks I started to enjoy it. I liked the headspace I found myself in when I relaxed and running and I enjoyed the way it was making my body feel. This, appeared to be the feeling of fitness.

This was when I started to set down clear goals for myself. I decided I wanted to run at a rate of 5 minutes a km, I decided I wanted to be able to run non-stop for an hour and I decided to do a half marathon in under two hours.


  • It was specific
  • It was measurable
  • It was attainable but also aspirational
  • It was relevant
  • And it was Time-framed, because I entered the half marathon round the bays on the 23rd of February.

I came up with an action plan. I would run three times a week. 5kms twice a week in the evenings, and one 10km + run in the weekend. I started running after school with Ms Kersten, who had started her training for the Wellington Pulse. It proved really helpful to have someone running with me as it helped to push me that much further. I also once went for a run with Mr O’Connor and Mr Rasmussen. It almost killed me. I went out and brought expensive running shoes that helped me run better apparently and looked cool. I downloaded an app that monitored my running progress. And by the time I went overseas I had meet every running goal, except the daunting idea of completing a half-marathon in under two hours.

I faced a massive barrier when I got back in January. With only six weeks to go until the half-marathon, I strained my plantar fascia. This is the muscle underneath your foot which is impossible to stretch so it was a real pain to strain it and it meant I couldn’t run anymore. I had to revisit my goal of a half-marathon in under two hours. I was still committed to achieving the goal, so I started physio to get my foot right. I joined a gym so I could use a cross trainer to maintain my fitness without suffering any more impact injuries on my foot, and I had some personal training sessions so that I could work on my strength rather than my fitness.

[Suggest opening this page and playing the soundtrack in another tab]

With only 10 days to go before the marathon I starting tentatively running on the road again, avoiding the hills to minimise the impact on my foot. I tried running 15km the week before the 1/2 marathon and completed it in 1.40. The half marathon is almost 22km, so I was well under the pace needed to complete my goal, but I was still highly committed.

Race day came and in the lead up I followed all the advice (decent sleep, good breakfast etc.) Eventually I was ready for the big race, knowing I would have to set out running consistently at 5.30 seconds per km and then hope that I still had energy to maintain this in the back half of the race.

At the halfway point my running app told me I was running at 5.39 a km and I really needed to go to the toilet. This was too slow, and I would not achieve my goal if I continues at that pace. Every person I passed made me feel really good about myself and this started to stir me on. I started to follow someone that overtook me and ended up keeping up with him for about 5 kilometer. My pace was increasing and the rhythm was feeling good.

Coming around to without sight of the airport out from Shelly Bay I knew I had to put in a massive effort. The wind had started to blow right at my face as well. That last couple of kms were probably the most challenging psychologically of my life. I was fighting the urge to just sit down, to give up and to just stop feeling so terrible. My heart was racing, my legs were numb, my whole body was in pain and the panting and sweating was just embarrassing.

MedalSomehow through the visualisation of crossing that finish line pulled me through and I stopped my clock just past the finish line at 1 hour 59 minutes and 58 seconds. It was without doubt one of the greatest feeling of success I have ever experienced. I felt so proud of my success.

Your goal setting booklets help you to go through the exact same process as I undertook. It is a structured approach to goal setting that might help you took achieve with Excellence in a particular subject, or attain excellent progress indicators in your end of year report, or master a particular writing skill or contribute something to the school in a extra-curricular activity. My message today is clear: take this goal setting process seriously. Be proud of the targets that you set yourself. And share it with you parents or caregivers on progress conference day in a couple of weeks.

The Learning Goal page. Breaking down the goal into achievement chunks.

The Learning Goal page. Breaking down the goal into achievement chunks.

Be proud of your learning and be proud of your success. And lastly, if you ever run a half-marathon, for goodness sake don’t forget to go to the bathroom before the race!

Success Baby

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