5 Mistakes I Won’t Make This Academic Year

Friday, 28th August, 2015

As I’m thinking about, and planning for, the upcoming academic year, my thoughts are around the things I’m going to do.

I’m generally motivated towards my goals (Group A in this post), rather than moving away from the current situation (Group B). Both are valid styles of motivation. But sometimes I find I get a healthy balance by looking at the things I need to remember to avoid.

Pencil with eraserSo here are the 5 things I want to avoid this coming academic year

1. Setting myself too many challenges

2015 so far has been a particularly busy one, not just with work (my busiest to date), but also around a personal goal I’d set myself when turning 50 at the end of December last year.

I set myself a challenge of doing 50 Things at 50. As I write this, I’ve done 28 of the 50 things, but only had time to write up 22. It’s been a struggle to fit things in, but I’m determined to achieve it. Watch this space to see if I make it!

Next year I won’t have this to do, but I know what I’m like (always up for challenging myself), and will need to keep this in check. Although I have been thinking about flying lessons, following  Challenge #18 … :-)

2. Neglecting my creative side

My 50 Things Challenge has given me the opportunity (and excuse!) to do things that I used to do, which include using my (rusty) artistic skills. I’ve started playing the piano again, I’ve been more creative with photography, and I’m getting back into sketching/using pastels.

So I now need to keep this up and make sure there’s time for me to do something creative every week.

Screenshot 2015-08-28 13.51.09I’ve recently discovered ‘Chains‘, a website that allows you to set up chains of tasks that you complete – to build up new habits. Here’s a screen shot of a current set of chains I’ve got set up. You don’t have to do the task every day, you can set it up so that it only applies to certain days of the week.

If you look at my ‘Run/exercise’ chain, you’ll see Wednesday & Monday have a slightly darker colour of shading – this is because these are days I’d chosen not to run or exercise. Today is also a day I’ve opted not to run, but my chain will continue if I run tomorrow.

(NB Eddie & Roxy are my dogs!)

It’s a great tool if you’re visual, because the graphics change the longer the chain you create! I find this quite motivating.

3. Spending too much time being sedentary

Having moved from full-time teaching to running my own coaching and training company, I tend to spend a lot more time sitting. Apart from the time standing up delivering training, it can be quite a sedentary job. I’m usually sitting when I’m writing/prepping for training, when coaching people, or sitting in the car travelling between schools. It’s great that I’m getting to schools across the country, but it does mean I’m sitting for longer.

I’ve certainly noticed a difference health-wise. My muscles are also getting quite stiff, so I’ve now started including stretching in my daily routine. Of course walking the dogs does mean I get some regular exercise, but I need more! So I will be adding new chains as the term progresses, and making sure I keep stopping (where possible) and getting up to move around.

4. Aiming for perfection ALL the time!

Yes, I have to admit I’m a bit of a perfectionist. This year I’ve had to do a bit of self-coaching to just be satisfied that a task is done well enough. I’ve found it useful to decide – at the start of a task – what the minimum outcome needs to be for that task. So if I don’t have time to make it all-bells-and-whistles, at least it’s good enough.

Can you empathise with that? A lot of teachers & school leaders I work with often have the perfectionist work ethic, and it can be both mentally and physically unhealthy.

5. Offering to coach more than 4 people in a day

This is about both protecting my wellbeing and doing a better job for my clients. As much as I love what I do, I need to know the limit beyond which I’m no longer useful to my coachees.

Those of you who coach will know what a demanding role it is. You can’t do much planning beforehand. You have to take your cues from the coachee – what is it they want from the session; what options can they think of; what’s really going on for them. Delivering coaching is about thinking on your feet.

Really listening to someone when you’re coaching them takes quite a lot of effort, especially if you get distracting thoughts that you have to manage and let go. You’re also not just listening to what the coachee is saying, but what they’re not saying … then asking the right question, or providing the most useful observation – to move them forward.

So which mistakes will you not be making this coming academic year?


Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post.

I’m Debbie Inglis, executive coach, trainer & supervision coach, working across the UK and Internationally with leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in them.

If you’re interested in my services, you can contact me here, or pop over to my website to read more here. I also publish a weekly newsletter which you can sign up to here.