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Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet

by Tim Oughton, Executive Principal

One of the most enticing aspects of a new year is the opportunity for a fresh start. Returning to routines with a positive mindset and clear head can set the tone for the coming months, and the first few weeks of a year can often provide just the right amount of perspective to set new goals and objectives. But a fresh start means nothing if you don’t take the time to plan your approach.

There are few times in life that we have the opportunity to truly start afresh, but Term 1 in the school calendar is one of them. With a new year come new teachers, new timetables, classrooms and subjects. Exciting and unexpected challenges present themselves on a daily basis and individuals have the opportunity to reinvent themselves based on the skills, experience and maturity they have gained over the previous year.

To the students heading back to school this month, I challenge you to make the most of this opportunity. Ask yourself what you want to achieve this year – be honest – and then plan the steps you will take to realise your ambition. There is, of course, more to success than just this, but if you follow these steps you will be well equipped to achieve your goals.

1 - Get serious. Make a decision about what you want to achieve and hold yourself to it. An unwavering focus will help you to prioritise when the pressure comes on. Make your goals measurable so you can track your progress – this way you’ll know the moment you achieve success.

2 – Identify your limiting step. What area do you need to improve on the most? It is easy to focus on our strengths and to feel that they are the key to success. However, the greatest improvements can often be made by working on the dimensions that are not as strong. It may be that time management can help you unlock a new approach to assessments. Or perhaps reducing distractions will help you improve your effectiveness during revision. Small steps and simple improvements might be all it takes to realise a significant change. Take these improvements and use them, they are the fuel that will inspire the next steps in your journey.

3 – Take care of yourself. It seems simple but too often we forget to look after our own wellbeing. Exercise, diet and a good night’s rest can quickly fall off the radar when the pressures of the year kick in. These are critical pillars and without them we can lack the energy or enthusiasm to face the tasks before us. If you are working hard for six days every week, go to bed early six days a week. Eat well and target 10,000 steps every day – this should be an easy goal for students moving around a busy school campus.

4 – Surround yourself with good people. Broadening your friendship group and surrounding yourself with people who inspire you can have a positive effect on your own success and wellbeing. Ask yourself: how many new friends can I make this year? Talk to someone who you might previously have passed by in the corridor, or befriend someone who is lonely or new to the school. By showing genuine support for others, you will find yourself with a rich network of likeminded friends who will have your back whenever you need it.

5 – Be grateful and enjoy the journey. This year will be full of challenges. It is a given. However, you have before you the opportunity to make 2016 whatever you want it to be. And the one thing that has the greatest bearing over whether you achieve your goals is you. Attitude is key, and maintaining a positive outlook can make all the difference.

I challenge you to identify three positives in every day. Write them down – record them and reflect on them. This will help you to appreciate the life you live, and it will help you to wake up happy, looking forward to whatever your day has in store.

Enjoy the year that is before you. You will never get this time again. Use it well.