Report cards and checking progress
Every six weeks when I was growing up I would leave school with my report card in hand. Sometimes I would run the whole way home to show Mom and Dad. The Pharmacist in town had a soda shop in the store and any student could come by for a free treat if they had all A’s and B’s. Other times I slowly walked dreading the conversation that would take place that evening. Think you have outgrown the need to check your progress now? Think again, this is a vital skill we need now more than ever.
Actually the report card was just part of an ongoing feedback loop between the teacher and their students/parents. That feedback was necessary to ensure that you stayed on the path that would take you on to the next grade. Bomb a test and there was a note from the teacher to you. Bomb two or more and your parents needed to sign the test. Every three weeks progress reports came out that showed where you were cumulatively in regards to assignments, tests, and homework. As the semester ended your report cards to date were averaged to show progress for the year. There was no way that a student could approach that glorious day in May without knowing already whether they were being advanced or held back. And yet as adults we just go through life with few defined goals and those we do have, we never check our progress on. We must schedule regular checkups to make sure we are drawing closer to those goals and not further away.
I said above that sometimes life got the better of me and my grades were less than the threshold for a double scoop dipped cone. Same thing happens today. All too often the daily fires get in the way of completing actions toward my long term goals. Your goals will never materialize if you don’t have a regularly scheduled checkup. If left unchecked, your goals will in fact revert back to being day dream fodder. Here are a couple of tips to help you make this a part of your life today:
- Make your checkup the same day/time each month. I personally like to do my checkups twice a month but start with one. It could be for example the 15th or the first Thursday but try to get some consistency by sitting down on the same day each month.
- Make a reminder. Don’t just put it in your phone; it’s too easy to forget about it until the alarm goes off. Write it on the bathroom mirror; tape it to the fridge; someplace that you visit on a daily basis.
- Ask someone else to attend. Sounds weird but it is too easy to blow off the checkup if it is just going to be me reviewing how I’m doing (especially if I haven’t done anything). Get an accountability partner.
Your parents were your first accountability partner. You told them your goal(s) before school (I’m getting my double scoop cone each report card this year). And they held you to that. My gym is always packed right after New Year’s. The majority quit coming (thank God) after two weeks. Know what the ones who remain all have in common? They either found someone there or brought their own workout (accountability) partner.If you have a long term relationship this is a great way to deepen it. Invite your loved one to be the accountability partner. Hopefully one of your goals is to enrich that relationship (please make it more specific than that). If not, make it one before you talk with them! Set the day and time and invite them to think of some mutual goals or ones they might have for themselves. If you aren’t in a relationship then ask a relative or friend you can always hire a coach too. Follow the below format:
- Check in – Each person gives an update on what steps or actions they did or didn’t accomplish over the last month. Don’t bring up excuses you either did or did not.
- Assessment – Were those steps or actions enough? Did they move you closer to or away from the goal? What (if anything) got in the way? Is more/less or the same effort needed in the coming month?
- Plan – Based on the above what are the steps/actions you want to take in the coming month? What time/effort/resources will be needed and where are they coming from? What help do you need from the partner? What modifications are required to keep this goal alive?
Try it out and see if having a regular checkup relieves some of the frustrations in your life and jumpstarts your goal setting.