73. Goal Setting Strategies For Schools and Life with Tara & Aubrey
In this episode of Mindful School Marketing, we dive into the significance of goal setting as we kick off the new year. We share our enthusiasm for planning, both on a personal level and for our school clients. Our discussion explores challenges school leaders face, the value of reflection, and the necessity of creating actionable plans. As we navigate through these topics, we hope to inspire you to approach goal setting with mindfulness and strategic intent.
Mentioned in the episode:
-12 Week Year Sample Sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xHBlKX00d8pgMpOiimeazwTOf554JFYxpcwO9XcvVzc/edit?usp=drive_link
-Year Compass: https://my.equalizedigital.com/audit-remediation-checkout/?ar_price_option=tier2
About Tara Claeys & Aubrey Bursch:
Tara Claeys is the founder of Design TLC – a professional website agency for small schools. She’s passionate about helping organizations provide enriching experiences for children by creating a great first impression online. Aubrey Bursch is founder + CEO of Easy School Marketing. She’s also a mom, lover of green smoothies and Peloton, and podcast host. She is passionate about supporting small + independent schools to increase enrollment, retention, and revenue.
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The following content has been automatically generated by an AI system from the audio recording of this podcast. We cannot guarantee the accuracy, or completeness of the information provided, and we apologize for any errors.
Aubrey: Welcome to Mindful School Marketing. I’m Aubrey Barsh.
Tara: And I’m Tara Clays. We are excited about this episode kicking off the new year. Today, Aubrey and I are going to talk about setting goals. We are both planners. We connected on that early on when we got to know each other and we love setting goals for ourselves and also for our school clients.
So we enjoy a focus on working towards these goals. And what a better time to talk about this than the transition from one calendar year to the next.
Aubrey: Yes. Happy 2024, everyone. Um, now, listeners may recall an episode we did a while ago with Megan Simrell, who was a time management coach for women. It was a great episode, so be sure to check it out.
It’s episode 29, if you want to look at it, and we’ll also include it in the show notes. Um, but it was a really good one.
Tara: Yes, she shared some great things and she has a fantastic system and process for planning, which may well work for you. So do check that out. But today we’re going to take a more high level look at goal setting, not necessarily day to day or week to week planning, so much as, um, Overarching goals.
So commonly people do this one year at a time, right? People will set New Year’s resolutions and they’ll do this at this time of year where you’re reviewing maybe what happened last year and thinking about what you want to change. I know this is a time when most people sign up for gym memberships and the gyms are bustling because everybody has a goal to get in shape.
Um, but these don’t have to be work or business goals, right? What we’re talking about here. I mean, we’re going to be talking about that for sure, because we know that’s what you’re here for a lot of times is to talk about how to take strategies and implement them in your work life. But we’re also going to talk about.
So we’re going to talk about general goals for me, many of my goals are mostly related to my mental and physical health, and that may be the same for you as well. So Aubrey and I are going to talk about our goal setting processes, things that we do, and also things that we see our school clients doing or planning or trying to do or hoping to do.
So we’re going to share some thoughts on what makes goal setting successful and also what makes it fail for school marketing plans and
Aubrey: in general. Absolutely. I’m so excited about this episode. Now, in anticipation for the episode, we took a very informal poll on our social media channels to see how many people set goals at the new year and what their process is.
Tara, can you share the results?
Tara: Well, maybe not surprisingly, it was 50 50. So half of the respondents said they have a planning process and that they plan their year ahead of time and half don’t. Ah,
Aubrey: that is not surprising, right? Yeah. And I did an informal kind of question and answer session with some of my groups, like small school leaders and stuff.
Um, and to find out like, Hey, what’s going on with goal setting? And it was very interesting to hear what they said too. So, um, some of the challenges that our school leaders are facing in terms of goal setting is like finding the free time to look at that high level. Right. to really determine their goals.
Um, and then some of them don’t even get a chance to like professionally get a chance to set their goals. Their goals are actually handed to them, um, either from the board or the head of school. Um, and so they don’t feel involved in that process. And then others find that they’re so overwhelmed that they just take the goals from the previous year and rinse and repeat.
Um, so there’s not often a discussion or like looking at, you know, data and stuff, um, and looking at the ROI, uh, before setting goals for the next year. Um, so we all know that this is really important to set those goals, um, especially as school leaders, um, but. You know, with school teams like we what we’re noticing is the school people who put the effort in January through I would say May and really take the time to set their goals and then form an action plan or the ones that really see success in the next school year.
So that’s what we work with, uh, work with clients right now during that time period. Now I’m curious, Tara, because I know you love goal setting. You’re like a planner. You’re my favorite person to talk to about this topic. Um, so I’m going to ask this question, even though I know the answer. Do you set annual goals, Tara?
Um, can you, and if so, which I know you do, can you tell us the specific system that you like to use? And I know you’ve used it for many years. Yes,
Tara: thanks. Of course, I do love talking about my goal setting process. It’s maybe not necessarily a great thing, how much I love it, but I’ve given talks about it and it’s something that’s really changed my life and how I feel about myself because I think when we are working towards goals, It gives us a purpose and it makes us feel accomplished when we do that.
And also to give ourselves grace when we don’t do what we need. So it’s a learning process. But, um, but I’ll start by saying that just like fashion or food or other everyone has their own taste. So what works for me might not work for you. There are tons of different ways of planning and some people don’t plan it all.
And that works out for them too. So the key is to have it. A process, I think, though, and any successful process you want to make it enjoyable and easy for you. If anybody’s read atomic habits, that’s one of the key steps. And that is to make, um, is to make anything that you’re trying to make into a habit or to accomplish, make it enjoyable and easy.
So several years ago, I was introduced to a book called the 12 week year, which is in our Goodreads list and has been referenced a few times, at least. Um, but, but the, the purpose of the 12 week year is, is. There’s a lot of reflection involved in it. And it’s taking your goals and instead of saying, this is what I’m going to do this year in 2024, breaking it down into smaller chunks.
For me, this really made sense. And when, when this really resonated with me was I was started writing a year in review, even just for myself at the end of the year, the beginning of the year, I looked back on the year. And when I, when I looked back at the one I had written, the first one I had written the year before, I had totally forgotten all the things that I said I was going to do, because I set them up and I feel like I got them out there and then I never followed through on them.
So. What happens with a 12 week year process is that first of all, you’re making your goals shorter. So instead of what happens if you set it for a year as it comes November and you have forgotten what you plan to do, or you haven’t even started, so this allows you to have more compressed time frame for achieving those goals.
And you might have something that is going to take a year to do, but you’re breaking it down into pieces by quarter. So I think it’s Really helpful for me to try to step back and plan out things that I can actually accomplish rather than trying to set these lofty goals of, you know, I’m going to change my whole way of approaching X, Y or Z, or I’m going to lose 20 pounds or whatever those things are to break them down into smaller pieces makes them a lot more actionable, and I think you’re more successful in accomplishing them.
So that’s one of the keys. And you create these goals, three or four goals. Some of them are maybe for your. for your school for your work specific goals that you have and some of them might be more personal goals like waking up early five days a week or something like that making them very actionable and then scoring yourself so giving yourself a score every week on how you did towards that goal so if you said you were going to get up five days five days a week early and you got up last week three times early that you you give yourself that score of three out of five So I think that also helps because then it gives you some measurable information about about whether that goal is important to you as well.
So if you find that you’re not actually accomplishing the goal, and you’re getting a low score week after week, that might not be a goal. That’s important. Or you may have said it incorrectly for yourself or set it too high. So all of those things, I think, help goal setting becomes something that’s more concrete and tangible, but also something that is measurable and and you can really.
See whether it’s a good fit for you or not. This year, I also have a new process that I’ve started. I just spent a couple of hours last night doing this. It’s called year compass and you can download it. I’ll put the link in the show notes. This is not really, you know, a marketing plan or anything that is necessarily related specifically to business.
It really is more, you look back on your year and use, you make notes about. what went well, what you enjoyed, those types of things that then you can employ those things towards your future year. So, um, it’s a great downloadable workbook that you can fill out as you maybe draw some pictures if you want to, or make lists.
You kind of go back week by week over your year and see what you did and what, what really stands out to you. So, That type of reflection at this time of year is also really helpful, um, rather than just kind of picking up where you left off, but looking back and really trying to make some decisions about what worked for you.
So now that I’ve talked about these kind of this big picture goal setting and my process. And again, there are many different ways to approach goal setting. I’d like to kind of now hone in a little bit and Aubrey have you take over and talk a little bit about. Planning as it comes to our audience of school marketers, tying goals to a school’s core values and mission and, and also I know for a lot of schools, strategic plans are part of that planning process and the board involvement in that as well.
So let’s kind of transition a little bit now into a deeper dive into specific school stuff.
Aubrey: Yeah. So this is something that I’m really passionate about because I’ve worked a lot with boards. I’ve worked a lot with development and marketing, um, teams, and we do see a lot of challenges around this area. Um, so oftentimes there’s like, there’s a couple of things that happen.
It’s like you set the high, like level goals, but then no one like actually. Chunks them down into tasks, into specific timeframes and stuff like that. And so, um, it’s less likely to happen when something like that happens. Um, so that’s one of the challenges we often see, or there’s. A lack, we’re so caught in the weeds as school leaders that we don’t take the time to set the high level visions or ask the right questions about our goals as a school, um, in our departments and overall, and therefore we’re, we’re not thinking strategically, right.
And talk about strategic plans, all that. Everything has to be, you know, goal setting is, is very important. Um, and so the challenges we see is that people don’t, you know, after when you’re, you mentioned reflection, right, Tara, um, and it, what we need to do at this time of year is also reflect on how things went, like, and not only reflect, you know, obviously about how things went with our team, our team’s energy, I think that’s so important as we’re so overwhelmed as school leaders, like how did the year feel for us?
Right. Um, where were some peak burnout? You know, places, um, where did we see success? Well, how did we define that success? What data do we have to support our, like the initiatives that we outlined in the goals that we set for ourselves last year? And after we take that time to review that and like really reflect on that, then we can look forward and say, okay, so this upcoming year we have.
We have to set some goals for that. And what does that look like? And once we take the time to reflect, set some goals like discuss new initiatives, I think things that might help us reach our goals and clarify our goals and set them, then it comes down to creating an actionable plan for them. And that’s like the other thing that, um, I see this, especially with marketing plans.
Like we work with a lot of schools on setting, you know, creating marketing plans and, um, either they have the high level. Um, Like the board wants a really high level view of a marketing plan, but that’s not very helpful for the marketing team because they just want to know how to implement this, this thing.
Um, and so they have to take the time to like, say, okay, these are our goals. Then let’s backtrack. What does this look like in Q1? Like, what does this look like in Q2? Like, how are we like really breaking it down so it’s doable for our department? Um, so that’s one thing. That’s one thing, especially with marketing plans that we see.
Um, and then for fundraising, for those of you who are in development, fundraising goals, it’s very interesting to see what happens with this is, um, either we’re doing the, the thing where we say, let’s just keep the goals from last year without really delving into the, the data. Um, Or we’re being handed goals from a higher like either the board or the head of school and we’re just executing on them, but we didn’t actually have input into those goals.
So I think thinking strategically about how other people are setting your goals for your department or and what involvement that is. So if you’re not presenting to the board about like what your suggestions would be, then I highly recommend you do. Um, in addition, I would say that. It’s really important to look at not only like study your data and think strategically so it’s not your goal might be two years from now you need to build up like you need to build up your major donors right but.
You know that that’s not just going to happen in one year. So you have to set mini goals for yourself for this upcoming year. That’s going to set you up for success in two years down the road. So it’s not just annual goals, but it’s like long term goals as well for your department and making sure that you’re putting them into actionable steps so that you can make progress on them this year and moving forward.
Tara: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you have to break them down. It’s like the 12 week year, right? You can’t just have this big general goal. You need to break it down into actionable steps. That really, um, is the only way to accomplish the goal, right? Is to make it, is to have it step by step for sure. Yeah.
Aubrey: So Tara, I mean, I know the 12 week year is a great, um, tool for this and there are so many others.
Do you have any, you know, advice for school leaders as they’re embarking on this progress
Tara: process? Yeah, I think that the key is mindfulness, right? That’s what, that’s what we talked about a lot on the show. And as I talked about, um, being reflective. So it really, it’s not just a matter of sitting down and writing down your goals that, You think are expected of you or that your board has communicated that they want generally, but you really need to spend some time doing this planning and it will pay off, but you need to reflect on what has worked and on how you’re going to get to your goal.
So you need to make a road map and break it down into actionable steps. So I use a spreadsheet, um, no surprise there, but I use a spreadsheet and I have an overarching goal. And then I list The different tasks that well, it will take to accomplish that goal. So if you are trying to increase your enrollment and you have an overarching goal of increasing enrollment, what are the things that you’re going to do?
So maybe one of the things you’re going to do is. You are going to, um, add in some more open house events, right? So you’re going to develop a strategy for some new open houses and schedule them and, um, promote them and all of the steps that it takes to do that. If you’re going to, uh, go to your local library and do a talk about, um, you know, the benefits of a program that you have at your school.
That’s something that you’re going to put on that list and that all of the steps that go into planning that event so break it down into those steps and then tell yourself which weeks you’re going to accomplish those things and you can see that they happen sequentially right first you’re going to put it on the calendar then you’re going to promote it then you’re going to follow up with promotion all of those different steps so really breaking it down and using something like a spreadsheet or a project management tool can be really helpful in doing that.
I love that. Yeah, yeah. Just taking a step back and, and thinking through step by step, not just one big giant goal. Cause then you’re never going to accomplish that.
Aubrey: Yeah, Tara. I’m also a big fan of the spreadsheet as well. Um, we use it with a lot of our clients, like when we’re developing, like, so they’ll say, Yes, our goal is to increase enrollment.
And so then we come up with some sort of strategy, right? And let’s say it’s an open house. Then we always ask the follow up question. So we have put together a spreadsheet, we can color code by or even by sort by category and stuff like that, like what goal this particular initiative applies to so that they can see and they can track and also report out to the board.
Um, but we asked the question, like, Okay, so when are you sending the email that goes out to invite, like, all the back end? What’s the follow up look like? And then we put in those steps, because if those steps aren’t put in, first of all, someone’s going to forget, because you’re busy people, right? And so it really is taking that goal in, like, Really go at making sure that it’s got actions associated with it, that it can use.
And then I love what you said about like finding, it was like something around the finding the time, because so you have all this and then what, how are you putting this in your calendar? So a calendar is a great tool. Um, I know we both love our calendars. Like where are you scheduling this to happen in your.
your work life, right? Um, because if it’s, if we’re not scheduling time to tackle these particular items, then they are really not likely to happen. And so it’s, it’s setting non negotiable time on your calendar, perhaps each week, uh, definitely in, in blocks and stuff like that so that you can really dive in, um, and, you know, take action on those things that are going to move your goal forward.
Tara: Yeah, I think like, like I said at the beginning, everyone has something that feels good and works for them. Some people block scheduling really works and block putting blocks consistent blocks on their calendar. I’ve tried that. That says that’s not something that works for me, but I do plan out my week.
Um, and then I try to break things down on a daily basis of what I want to accomplish. Um, yeah. And sometimes those things get moved to other days. If I don’t get to them. I’m a little bit flexible that way. I think when Megan met with us, she definitely is not a fan of planning day by day. Uh, so, um, you know, it really is whatever works for you.
But I think, um, I will put a link to a version of my spreadsheet in our show notes as well, in case anyone wants to look at that, because that has a column for every week. And so you can look and see what you have on your list for that week, just by glancing at the spreadsheet. And however you do it, whether you write it in your daily planner, your weekly planner, or put it on your Google calendar, or put it in your project management tool, it really helps to kind of outline that.
And then also, the spreadsheet is coded in a way that then you give yourself a score. So every, every week it tells you what your score is out of 100 percent of all the things that you’re supposed to do if you did them or not.
Aubrey: I love that. I love the scoring. It’s almost like a game, right? It gamifies it, right?
Um, that’s great. And I love your messaging here, Tara, because it is truly. Whatever works for you. There are some schools that thrive on project management. There are some schools that won’t touch it with the 10 foot pole because it does not work for their team. And that is fine. It’s finding what works for you, what works for your team.
And I think the team part is key because especially if you’re relying on other people, like your actions can’t be completed without the other people around the table. Then you all need to come up with what is, what is the thing that works for us best, right? Um, and, and use, use that system because that’s how you as a team are going to move forward as well.
Tara: That’s an important point. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. And I’m sure you see that in your small school leaders group, um, you know, taking into account something that works for a team and then breaking it down into what works for you within that process as well. So, yeah, this is all great information. Um, For us to be sharing.
I’m so happy that we took the time to do it. And I know this little episode hopefully is just a little something people can take to heart and make some notes and then go check out the show notes because we’ll put a few things in there that might be helpful as well.
Aubrey: Yeah, and thanks for your spreadsheet Tara.
That’s going to be, you guys are going to love it because she has, she’s a master of spreadsheets.
Tara: Well you are too, but yes, hopefully, hopefully it’s helpful and we’d love to hear from you. From people too. So feel free to comment in social media. Um, reach out to us also through our website. You can reach out and let us know what planning processes work for you.
And we’re happy to add them to our show notes as well. If anyone has anything that really works that they want to share. So, um, yeah, thanks for joining us today and take a listen. Happy new year, everyone.
Aubrey: Happy new year and happy planning.