Earlier this year, my career and motivational coach–Coach Durham– told me two things that changed my life. His first piece of advice: “Who do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered? Write your own tombstone epitaph and live your life accordingly.”
I sat at that chair and stared at the blank piece of paper for an hour, stumped. Even now, six months later, I still go back over my rough drafts, rewriting and crossing out things, trying to really articulate my thoughts. It has been a work in progress, but my quality of life has greatly improved since my shift in decisions and actions, which now finally aligned with my real priorities–faith, relationships, and happiness.
Here’s one of my epitaph drafts:
Loving wife, dutiful daughter, supportive sister, and trustworthy friend;
Dedicated life-long learner and mentor; renowned writer and speaker; and joyful and faithful servant of the Lord.
She did more than exist, she truly lived.”
His second piece of advice: “If you want something, write it down.”
For three months, I wrote my goals and scheduled them in my planner. Right now, I am glad to say that I have achieved most of what I have set out to do. I completed eight weeks of Couch to 5K on my own, and now regularly run with my husband. I am thankfully employed for the new school year, and now am working on buying our first house.
As I reflect on Coach Durham’s advice and my progress, I now move on to using his advice to set a new mission statement and goals for the new school year. This fall, I will be embarking on my sixth year of teaching at a brand new school. Years ago, when I first wrote down my professional goals, it was about content, instruction, and strategies. This time, the lens is more about who I am and who I will be to my new students.
So, here’s my personal mission statement and goals in one for the new school year of 2015-2016:
- be a positive adult role model who will lead by faith and example
- see my students as individual learners with unique needs, talents, and gifts
- guide my students to find their identities, embrace their gifts, and hear their callings
- provide a safe and encouraging faith-centered environment of active science learning
- be bold and courageous in my ways of learning and teaching
Happy New School Year, friends! As you begin your year, whether or not it is your first year or your twentieth year, ask yourself: Who are you to you, and who will you be to your students this year?