Reflective resolutions

I recently had the great pleasure of facilitating a reflective practice meeting in the KOTESOL Reflective Practice Special Interest Group (RP SIG). The main topic was resolutions, reflecting,  and plans for reflecting in the new year.

To start the meeting I asked the group about what they usually think of when they hear the phrase “New Year’s Resolutions.” As I expected, they laughed and said things like:

They don’t come true.
I do them just for fun.
I don’t believe in them.
We always forget about them by February.  

I asked the group why these resolutions don’t often happen. The answers included:

They are not specific enough.
They are unrealistic.
We don’t really care about them.
They are unclear.
We don’t really believe that we will do them.

It seemed to me that the answers were related to typical resolutions not being SMART. I was happy and somewhat surprised that most people were not familiar with the acronym SMART. In any case, I think the concept behind SMART objectives makes a lot of intuitive sense.

Another focus of the RP SIG session was to think about how using the ELC can help us make better, more useful and more personally important action plans. After thinking about how to make their resolutions SMARTER I asked the more experienced RP members to present the ELC to the new members.

I then asked group members to walk through the ELC and share how it played it role in the creation of their resolutions. From my perspective it was like doing the ELC in reverse because we had already created the plans. I really enjoyed hearing the descriptions and analyses that led up to the resolutions. My feeling was that by sharing the background we all got a better sense of why we made the resolutions that we did.

Some members mentioned that they had automatically gone through the ELC in their heads without thinking of it while others said they just came up with resolutions almost automatically. I am still continually curious about how “natural” the ELC is and how much training, practice and awareness is needed to use it effectively.

My personal experience leads me to believe that by starting with an event/concrete experience and working our way through the ELC we are more likely to come up with more suitable action plans. I wonder if others have similar or different thoughts and experiences.

Just as I was about to publish this I came across this blog post which I think offers a lot of wisdom. From this I was reminded of the importance of writing down goals. I also think that publishing/announcing/stating goals can be helpful. So, with that in mind, my blogging related resolution is to do at least 25 blog posts this year. That is just under a post every other week. I hope that you will keep coming back to this blog and feel free to nudge me if I don’t keep up with it!

Finally, one book related to goals and making changes that I found very helpful and interesting is  “Switch” from the brilliant and accessible Heath brothers.


  1. Brad Patterson (@brad5patterson)

    Hi Michael-

    Great ideas and resolutions aren’t even the aiming of an arrow.

    I think resolutions get such a bad name because many ‘resolvers’ don’t know where their target really is, don’t aim well enough, probably don’t pull their hand back far enough… and well… ya get my point.

    You’ve lined out the path here which is what many people are missing. I hadn’t heard about SMART either, and equally enjoyed checking out CoolCat’s post. She is an inspiring blogger/tweeter/educator !

    Best to you in 2012 and really looking forward to the 24 next posts ! -brad

  2. mikecorea

    Hey Brad!
    (I don’t know how I managed not to comment for so long)

    Thanks so much for the comments and support. I am very happy that SMART was new for you as well. I think it is a really helpful thing to consider, even if our goals aren’t always fully SMART.

    Take care and see you in the blogosphere/twitterverse/email world.

    I hope 2012 is going how you planned and hoped!

  3. mikecorea

    Hi Brad,
    Sometimes I wonder if the idea of SMART objectives has had any impact on your thoughts or planning over the last 6 months. Just curious really. 🙂

  4. danielcraig

    Hi Mike. First I heard about SMART, too. I think that we have to also think about steps when thinking about resolutions. Too often I think that people think of resolutions (goals) in terms of a destination rather than a step in the right direction. For example, the destination might be finishing a class. That meets all of the SMART requirements, but the steps that it takes to get there are important to think about as well, possibly more important. When thinking about the steps, we can make resolutions such as reading a certain number of chapters per week, writing weekly summaries of the course content, and so forth. By setting these short-term goals we can feel more immediate satisfaction and progress while preparing ourselves to meet our long-term goal.

    I have to say that this has always been the most difficult for me. I’m a big idea kind of guy, the details bore me. Unfortunately, much of life (especially organizational life) is in the details. That is why I have started map out more of the steps necessary to reach my goals. I hope that this makes them easier to achieve.

    • mikecorea

      Thanks for commenting!
      I think I am happy to spread the word about SMART. Ha.
      I think the idea of thinking about things in steps is really helpful.
      That way we can see very clearly if we have done the thing that we said/thought we wanted to do.
      If I suddenly said that I’d like to be fluent in Korean by December (aside from being impossible!) it would lack the type of details that we are talking about here. I especially like your point about feeling and experiencing the immediate satisfaction of meeting goals.

      Thanks again for the comments and food for thought.
      I am now off to study Korean and exercise.
      (actually not really)

  5. Pingback: SMART bloggin 2013 « ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections

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