Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Helping Students Take Action and Develop Resilience

A goal without taking action is, essentially, a wish, a hope, or a dream. That is why setting goals without taking appropriate action is an exercise in futility. This is one of the pitfalls with helping students set goals. Once set, the process usually stalls because their is an assumption that the student, now that she has a goal, will "go for it" and find a way to achieve it. However, life is full of challenges and reasons to loose sight of your goal. As a result, students tend to be more successful with strategies in place that help them stay resilient in the face of difficulties.

I like to think of resilience as stubbornness directed at a worthwhile cause. Here are some ways to support student resilience.

Think "Why?"

When faced with the temptation to give up, remind yourself of why the goal is important. The result of this reminder will uncover one of two things. Either the goal is still a priority or it has been replaced by a higher priority. If it remains a high priority, keep going. If it has been replaced, move on.

Form a team

If you can find a group that is facing a similar challenge, you may find help by working together. When faced with accomplishing a goal for yourself, it is easier to give up than it is knowing others are also counting on you.

Smaller pieces

Difficult or unfamiliar goals can get overwhelming if you try to accomplish them in broad strokes. Break the actions into smaller and more manageable pieces. This helps you track progress, which is an important part of sticking with your goal.

Release the mantra!

No, the mantra is not some horrible monster. Your mantra is a short phrase that is easy to remember and clearly articulates your goal. For example, if your goal is to do a better job of handing in your homework on time, then you mantra may be something like "My homework; always on time." When you feel like you are moving away from your goal, repeat your mantra a few times. You may find it helps build resilience.

More than "What?" and "How?"

This is advice I often give. Knowing what and how is certainly important, but by adding "when" and "where" to your action plan has shown to increase the likelihood of you following through. Add "When?" and "Where?" to your plan to aid resilience.

A version of this post was originally published on The Thrivapy Blog on April 6, 2013. 
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