This year we had a new class added called PGP. It stands for Performance Growth Plan and it shows us how to handle all our projects or even everyday life. How to better time manage them, and how to get our work done on time and make our work even better. Throughout this class we went over two books, What Do You Really Want by Beverly K. Bachel and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, as well as other resources and apps to help with productivity.
The thing I use the most, especially over this year, is goal setting. I have always used goal setting, but through PGP I have learned to break down goals into little chunks, like micro-goals. This allows you to progress through a series of goals one after another. This has really helped me this year because of my concussion. I haven’t been able to just say “Oh, yeah my goal is to be the best at (fill in the blank)”, and then go out and do it. I have needed to have more steps along the way to get there. If you think about it like in a campaign style video game, its kind of like checkpoints. In the video game if you die after you have reached a checkpoint, you don’t have to start over at the beginning of the game, you can start from your last checkpoint. That is kind of what this type of goal setting is. Having little micro goals allows you to move from checkpoint to checkpoint until you can complete the big goal, or game level. That’s how I think of it.
One of the other things I have used is also about goal setting and is from the book, What Do You Really Want, by Beverly K. Bachel. It is an acronym called SMART goals. S is savvy, which means to make your goals specific and understandable. M is for measurable and I think of it from the stand point of lifting weights. If I am a novice and I’ve never lifted weights before in my life, but I want to be able to squat 600 lbs and I want to do it by the end of the year. That is NOT a reasonable goal, but it is measurable. You can change the measurements, the amount of weight or the time you have given yourself to complete it, to make it a reasonable goal. A is for active, so describing what actions you are going to take to reach your goal. R is for reachable, which relates to measurable, something you can actually do or reach. For example, if you are blind and your goal is to see, that may not be reachable for you depending on why you are blind. The last one is T for timed. It is important to have a time limit for your goals, and sometimes a time limit exists because of the goal you have. An example would be an MMA fighter who has to drop weight in a specific time so they can make weight for their fight. So they might have 3 months to make weight for their fight.
Using the different aspects of SMART for my goals has helped me to change my goals to accommodate for my limitations from my concussion so I could still achieve my goals and not get discouraged.
The other book we used, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Steven Covey, I found less useful. I already do almost everything in this book, but without the cliches or football analogies. I found this book really hard to read because every page was full of cliches, making it painful for me to read. There were a lot of personal sports stories, which made it seem like an excuse for the author to talk about himself. I do realize though, that not everyone would have had as much experience with the content of the Seven Habits book as I have through my family and through my time at Kenneth Gordon. At Kenneth Gordon, they have a dedicated program that is incorporated into everyday learning called social-emotional learning. This is where I learned a lot of these things, especially taking time to look after yourself. These concepts were reinforced at home as my family uses a lot of this content around improving your self-image, making big decisions, and resisting peer pressure. I found the content about goal setting in the book by Beverly Bachel to be a lot more useful for me than the goal setting that was presented in the Seven Habits book.
Another thing we focused on was productivity tools. One of the tools, weekly review, is something I have used since Grade 8. I will sit down at the end of the week and the end of each month with someone to help scribe for me and look at where did I start from, how did I get here, what can I improve, and where am I going next. Review is also something we learn in Cadets. In Cadets if we are given a job or a task to do, we do the job, and then they sit us down and review what can you do better, what went well, and ask others for their opinion as well. Learning to ask others for their opinion is also a good leadership strategy and something I do myself in my life.It also fits with PLP in general as this is the learning style we use in all our courses.
Another productivity tool is scheduling. Within scheduling, we learned about time blocking, which is dedicating a specific amount of time in your schedule, like a block of a couple of hours, to work on a specific task that is due. I have found that while I do block off time within my schedule to work on projects, I have to make my blocks shorter to allow for breaks. I have always needed to take more frequent breaks, especially with working with the printed word, because of my dyslexia. This has especially helped with recovering from my concussion. At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t able to focus for very long so I had to make sure I did more frequent blocks of time to complete each task.
Something else that I do is I always allow myself an extra 30 minutes to an hour to complete a task in case something goes wrong or takes longer. Giving yourself more time than what you think you need allows you to do a better job on your work because you have time to check what you have done, and if something goes wrong you have time to fix it.
Our driving question at the end of PGP was “What do I know now that I wish I had known before?” We then had to create an artifact that demonstrates what we have learned. For me, I have had a hard time answering this question because I knew and practiced a lot of these things before I took the PGP course. In my family, we are always setting goals and then looking at how to achieve them, we have always used scheduling and weekly reviews, and planned when we were going to get our work done so we could have free time. I also realize that my time at Kenneth Gordon increased my awareness of these things and helped me to further incorporate them into how I approach life. Cadets also includes some of these things in its leadership training as well. I think it was a good course, and for me it reinforced how important it is that I continue to use these tools. It also helped me to fine tune and adjust my goal setting and productivity planning to account for my concussion limiting what I could accomplish.
My artifact is a billboard at the side of the road, showing a road with direction signs. The billboard is asking, “Are you on the road to success?”. For me this reflects my learning in PGP as even when you are on the road to success, other side roads or flashy signs can distract you from your destination. You can also run into a road block or traffic jam that you just have to figure out how to get around. Like my concussion. Using my goal setting strategies and productivity tools, I can figure out how to get back on the road.