Goal-setting, Prioritizing, and Reflecting: 2012 in Review

Making lists, setting goals, and reflecting is somewhat of a second nature to me. My mother credits my third grade gifted/talented teacher, Mrs. Loraine Babcock, for these learned skills. But they are just that, learned skills that I too often take for granted. Sometimes, I assume everyone has a running list of goals and regularly reflects on progress, breaking down successes and failures to create a better game plan to tackle the next goals. Everyone doesn’t operate like this though, and it makes me wonder about how my education differed from that of others (G/T vs non-G/T, USA vs non USA, public vs. private, etc.)? How can I as an educator engineer experiences into the classroom that help my students prioritize, set sights, and review?

Based on what I’ve read, many others would agree that these three skills (goal-setting, prioritizing, and reflecting) are keys to success in life. Just look at almost any quote from Zig Ziglar or Stephen Covey publication! From an engineering perspective, these three things are in some way a significant part of the engineering design process. Thus the question is, how can we create equitable learning environments for all students that develop these skills and set up students for greater success in their future? Do we teach the engineering design process alongside scientific inquiry? Do we better integrate 21st century skills to support design and inquiry thinking? I believe the answer is… yes. Yes, we must do a better job of teaching goal-setting, prioritizing, and reflecting.

In the spirit of this theme, I will take a moment to reflect on my goals and priorities, and review my 2012. I am still a work in progress, and I have much to learn from 2012, as it has certainly been a year to remember. I have experienced the depths of pain and the highs of pure joy. I’ve accomplished big goals, overcome significant personal and professional hurdles, rejoiced over successes, and healed from failures. 2012 has overall been a great year, and I am pleased to report the good, the bad, and the ugly… because everything thrown at me has made me stronger.

Professionally, it has been a good year. I haven’t accomplished all I had planned, but overall it has been a productive year. Here are the highlights:

Doctoral Candidate & Data collection:

In January, I defended my dissertation proposal, passed, and earned Candidacy (ABD) status at Purdue University. With this hurdle cleared, I went on to do my data collection at a high school in Texas, March through May. Both of these were no easy feat. It took me a year of reading and thinking and writing to pull together what has become my dissertation study. The IRB process was an adventure in and of itself! Data collection was a great experience, but ultimately intense sitting through ~8 hours of high school daily for almost three months. I enjoyed the experience though, and now just need to analyze all of the data, write it up, and graduate! My goal was to have my data analyzed and first draft written by now, but that hasn’t happened, and will set me back a few months. It is top of my priorities, and my number one goal for 2013 is to submit and successfully defend my work.  Then… I can get hired on as a professor somewhere!

Industry Internship:

I got caught in a big reduction in force in 2009 at TI, and have felt like I wanted to go back to industry during most of my PhD program.  I managed to manufacture an industry internship back at TI from June through September. My goals for this experience were two-fold: 1) I felt like I could help the TI Education Technology business explore the K-12 engineering education market, and 2) I wanted to try industry again and decide if I ultimately want to return to this setting after graduation. I met both of these goals. In three months, I conducted a large qualitative research study for TI ET, and decided I do not want to return to industry full time. Thus, I was able to make the choice to exit industry, rather than the RIF making the decision for me. Consulting is the way to go for me, and my goal for 2013 is to earn and complete another industry contract of some sort, yet to be determined.

Consulting Business:

2012 was a good year for me as a consultant. I have taught 13 workshops, and every time I learn a little bit more and get a little bit better. I am more confident as a teacher and speaker, but am excited to continue this journey to becoming a better educator, developer, and facilitator. Working with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity has been a great experience! I have met incredible people who are teaching me so much about equity, accessibility, professional development, and non-profit business. They have given me so many opportunities, and I am grateful to be a part of their network. My goal for 2013 is to continue developing this partnership and improving on the counselor work I have been doing since 2008. I also plan to do some “international” consulting here in Puerto Rico.

Publications:

I got to go to a couple of  conferences in 2012, and presented one paper. I’ve got three papers in the works for 2013, and will be going to two new conferences this coming year as well. I love conferences! And I am looking forward to sharing my work with the research community.

 

My personal life is where I have seen the most change in 2012.

Health: 

Over the course of the last year, I have lost about 50 pounds and really improved my health and physical condition. A year ago, I was completely inactive, unhealthy, and unhappy with myself. Now, I run 3-4 miles on the beach daily, coupled with calisthenics, yoga, and swimming on a regular basis. I feel like a different person now. In addition, I turned 30 in October. Even though I will likely never be 100% secure in myself, I do feel like I am finally settling into my own skin. I am more confident in who I am, and what I want out of life. My goal for 2013 is to continue on this journey to physical and emotional health, with more specific targets to be determined.

Marriage:

This is the first time I am publicly acknowledging it, but 3.5 months ago, my marriage suddenly ended. Two years in. I had certainly hoped and planned for forever. With an abundance of reflection, and strength and resilience I wasn’t expecting, I am doing great.  This change has forced the biggest reset for me in years. It is an incredible opportunity to reevaluate my goals, dreams, priorities and plans for the future. Tied closely to the emotional health mentioned above, there is so much room for growth. I am hopeful. I am optimistic. I am excited for what is to come. My goal for 2013 is to be me again: a happy, healthy, and balanced me.

Dreams:

Welcome to my office!

2012 allowed me to check a couple of dreams off the list, too. I have always wanted to live in a high rise, urban loft style apartment, and while working for TI over the summer, I got to spend four fun months in Uptown Dallas in a super posh pad. To follow that, another dream place to live. I have always jokingly said that my goal in life is to be a beach bum. Sure I want to change the world too, but I would like to do that while having quick access to the beach. So? I live in Maunabo, Puerto Rico, right on the Caribbean. I’ve been here for three months, and am not sure when I plan to leave. I will be here until I finish my PhD, and we will see after that. Depends on who offers me work fun enough to draw me away from here. I am living the life I have always wanted… and there is no greater joy than waking up to that peace and an incredible view every day.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar

What have I become this year in pursuit of my goals? I have become a stronger woman. I faced great fears (industry), overcame personal failures (marriage), achieved professional milestones (ABD), and taken great leaps (Puerto Rico). What can I hope for 2013? That I am stronger still. I’ve got some more work to better articulate my goals, then I need to makes lots of lists, and continue to be a reflective practitioner of life. Greater things are yet to come.

May we as educators lead by example. May we show our students how to set goals, prioritize, and reflect. Things don’t always work out like we plan, but reflection helps us build resilience and strength. Someone once told me that life is like a sine wave… you have highs and lows, but it all averages out. May your average for 2013 be greater than 2012, and may you inspire someone else’s to be better yet, too!

 

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