Author Archive for Katie Francis

Staying Motivated on Long-Term Goals

I love dreaming up new projects and starting to plan long-term goals, it’s lots of fun for me! I like thinking about all the great things that will come from reaching my goal and how I will grow as a person. But what happens when that initial excitement dies out?

It is difficult to stick to long term goals, whether it’s weight loss, learning a new skill, or anything else that takes several months of dedication. I’m pretty good about starting my goals and sticking to them for a few weeks or months, but many things seem to die out becuase I loose interest or forget about them. My goal-reaching stamina was really put to the test over the summer when I kept raising my cookie selling goal. I kept thinking that I would only sell for one more week, but soon that turned into one more month, and then another and another! Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tips for sticking to long term goals from the many projects that I have dedicated myself to for many months, like writing a book!

  1. Create a routine and stick to it
  2. Hold yourself accountable
  3. Take breaks
  4. Motivate yourself with daily reminders
  5. Make it enjoyable

First of all; create a routine and stick to it. This is what I was talking about last week with creating a motivating environment for yourself. Plan out your schedule of when you are going to be working on that project, and by doing that, you are creating deadlines. Those deadlines can create pressure you need in order to stop procrastinating.

Now that you’ve created a schedule and routine for yourself, stick to it! Right? Sometimes, it’s not that simple. It’s easy to ignore the deadlines that we create for ourselves, so ask a friend to check in on your progress regularly. This was one of the best things for me when I was working on my Gold Award project.

Doing something for months on end-depending on the project-can be draining. Remember to take breaks every now and then so you don’t get burnt out. Many students create study breaks in their schedule so they don’t get exhausted. The same rule applies on a larger scale project!

Whether it’s sticky notes on your mirror or something else, creating little reminders for yourself that you see every day can be the boost that you need to reenergize yourself to work on your goals!

And finally, make it enjoyable! I talked about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation in my blog a couple of weeks ago, and this is where is applies! Basically, if someone is intrinsically motivated, they are doing something becuase they enjoy the process of doing it. People are far more likely to be successful in a goal that they are intrinsically motivated to achieve.

These are just a few of the many suggestions for achieving long-term goals; I could go on all day! But no matter how many suggestions I give, we can’t reach our goals until we start working on them. In the end, find what works best for you and then DO IT!

Creating Motivation in your Environment

Happy Thanksgiving Week! I always enjoy taking this time of the year to spend time reflecting on what I am thankful for. Girl Scouts, the Gold Award platform, and everyone who helped me earn my Gold Award are some of the things that I’ve been thinking about today. To earn my Gold Award, I wrote a book and a lesson plan to teach about the importance of having the right mindset in order to be successful, and I included 16 interviews with a diverse range of people to include specific examples of how their mindset led to their success.

One of these interviews was with Dr. Carol Dweck, who wrote “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” and created the fixed/growth mindset theory. (For context, having a fixed mindset is when someone believes that their basic qualities like intelligence or talent are fixed and can’t be changed, while having a growth mindset means that someone believes that their qualities can be grown and developed.) In my interview with Dr. Dweck, she told me about a “fixed-mindset environment” that one of her teachers had created, and how we all have a mixture of fixed and growth mindset, but the environment that we are in can effect our mindset.

This is important for several reasons, but I want to go ahead an explore this same idea within the topic of motivation. Does the environment that we are in affect motivation? I believe the answer is a resounding yes! Many students are finding it difficult to be motivated to accomplish tasks that would have been easy before the pandemic due to the online school format. While this specific example is not something that can be changed, being aware of how your environment is affecting your motivation can lead to taking the right steps to succeed in your goals, and your daily habits are something that you can control.

For example, deadlines are somewhat different for regular assignments. Usually, you would have one class period to complete something, but now, becuase of the asynchronous format, you are allowed several days, so it’s easier to procrastinate. You can combat procrastination by setting your own deadlines as if something were due like it would have been before the switch to online. This is just one example of the many possibilities of how to change your habits to create a more motivational environment for yourself. Take some time to think of something that will help YOU in your environment and then do it!!

Types of Motivation

One of my favorite classes in high school was AP Psychology. I learned about a lot of interesting concepts in this class. One concept that I want to share is called intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is when someone does something because they want to, and without any outside force making them. Extrinsic motivation is the opposite-where someone does something because of external rewards. The action that you’re doing may be the same, like reading a book, but if you are reading because you want to, your motivation is intrinsic. If you’re reading because you have to for a class, then you have extrinsic motivation.

The important thing to learn from this concept is that research has found that people are more successful when they are intrinsically motivated to do something. If you take something you enjoy, like photography or painting, and create extrinsic motivations (like earning money for doing it), you might not be as successful or motivated to achieve your goal. 

Another way of looking at it is that people who are intrinsically motivated do something because they enjoy the process itself. People who are extrinsically motivated do something because of the benefits they gain from completing the task-whatever it is. Based on this, it is easy to see why people find more success in goals they are intrinsically motivated to do. I enjoy the process of selling Girl Scout Cookies, for example, and therefore end up selling a lot! The Girl Scouts that see the cookie sale more like a fundraiser, and care more about what they’ll be able to do with their troop with the money they raise, will likely only sell just as many as they need to in order to reach their goal. The cookie sale is an amazing program because it is girl led so that girls can make their own choices, and either type of motivation is beneficial to their Girl Scout experience!

So the next time that you find it is difficult to accomplish a task or goal, think about the bigger picture. You may not find enjoyment in the process of learning a difficult math concept, for example, but you can remember that you are doing it because you want to get a good grade in your math class so you can progress to the next step of your academic career!

Motivation Series Introduction!

This year started like any other. I was finishing high school, participating in activities like show choir and band, and I started my final Girl Scout cookie selling season. But when the pandemic led to a total shutdown, that all came to a full stop. My Girl Scout council had to end the cookie sale early and, as a result, allowed all troops to return their unsold cookies. A lot was returned, so I decided to step up and try to help by selling what I could. I began by raising my goal-only a little, because it was more difficult to sell during a pandemic. When it started returning to a kind of normal, I raised my goal more and more, and in the end, I sold a total of 44,200 boxes of cookies, breaking the national single-season record and setting the national career record for cookie sales at 180,000 boxes!

This was far more than my original goal to get my record to 150,000 boxes. I was selling many hours every day for months to reach this achievement. Over the summer, I learned a lot more about goal setting and achieving goals that require a longer period of time. I am interested in learning more about the many factors that lead to any kind of success; this is a large part of what motivated me to write a book for my Girl Scout Gold Award project.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be exploring the topic of motivation and achievement more in depth through this blog, and I’m curious how my observations compare to what other people have learned about what it takes to achieve large goals, whether it’s earning a degree, writing a book, starting a business, or selling Girl Scout cookies.

How do you solve a million dollar problem?

The answer is simple: One step at a time. My Girl Scout council is stuck with many, many cookies. I know I have the ability to help, one box at a time. While many big tasks and goals seem daunting at first, it is important to remember that when you break them down into bite-sized pieces, it becomes achievable. I use this knowledge when setting goals for my Girl Scout Cookie Sale. I set very large goals every year, and if I don’t break them down, they can seem overwhelming.

I break down my goals by determining how many boxes I will need to sell each week, each day, and even each hour to reach my goal. This helps me while I am selling because it allows me to make sure that I am on track to reach my goal. Breaking down your goal is a great strategy that can be applied to many different things. Whether it’s school work, sales, or hobbies, once you have a plan that is easy to follow and you put in the work to achieve your goal, it is possible!

Dream Big

I recently took a road trip with a couple of my friends where we saw about 11 different Universities to get started on our college applications process. Among these included the Ivy Leagues and several others like New York University and The University of Chicago. I was impressed by every college that we visited and would love to go to any one of them. The reason that I am talking about this trip is because seeing all of these colleges, all of which are very prestigious and have extremely low admissions rates, inspired me to dream big as I navigate through the college admissions process. I still have lots of research to do before I start applying, but having a dream is the first step of many and I can’t wait to get started on this journey!

I want to encourage everyone to dream big, no matter what. That is the first step. No matter how lofty it may seem, it is the first step in propelling you to achievement.

Anxiety

As a junior in high school, I take many tests. Recently, everyone had to take state tests for science and history, as well as the ACT. Between studying for that and all of the homework that has been piled on, I haven’t had much time for anything else-like sleep. I’ve also noticed that there is a lot of anxiety. Everyone had varying degrees of anxiety; but it seems to be fairly consistent with 3 different variables. They were

  1. How much a student prepared
  2. When that prep work was done
  3. How important the test was to each student.

To discuss the first point; how much a student had prepared. Those who had studied for several hours were a lot less nervous than those who hadn’t studied at all.

Next; When that prep work was done. Those who had started studying several weeks in advance also felt more ready for the tests than those who had started only the day before or none at all.

Lastly; how important the test was to each student. After being told that the state science test wasn’t only important and the only score we would receive was a pass or a fail on the bottom of a transcript, many people weren’t worried too much about studying for this test. In contrast, we have all been told that the ACT is very important for college admissions so many people were very nervous going into this test.

Based on this, I have a solution for dealing with anxiety over specific projects, and no, it’s not just self-care like exercise and salt-baths (however self-care is also very important). As soon as you find out about an important project, whether it be a test or otherwise, put it on your calendar. Then, now that you know how many days you have to study or prepare, determine how much time you can and want to commit to working on it each day, or which days you will work on it. Planning that out is one thing, but actually doing it is another. If it helps, it may be useful to even write down the days on your calendar that you plan to study or work on that specific thing. Determine how important that thing is to you; a Finals test would be more important than a single homework assignment, and would therefore have more time dedicated to working on it. Just by doing a simple action such as making a plan and following through with it, you can greatly reduce anxiety.

The Beauty Not Captured

A few days ago, I was walking and something caught my attention. It was the moon, and between that and the colors of the sky around it, I was awestruck by the beauty. I quickly pulled out my phone to snap a photo, but as always, it didn’t quite capture the beauty of the scene. I’m sure most everyone has experienced those “reality vs. expectation” moments where what your phone captures just doesn’t look like what you’re expecting. But, like many other things, there is a lesson to take away from this. Just like a phone camera, it is difficult to catch all of the little details, there is so much to learn about each person that you meet. I want to encourage you in the coming week to see the beauty and potential in everyone, and remember that what you see may not be the whole picture.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!! I have had such a great 2018, starting my Junior year in High School, earning my drivers license, and making great progress on all of my goals. I can’t wait to accomplish even more in 2019. I’ve already been setting goals, like for the Girl Scout Cookie Sale and my Gold Award Project. One of my favorite New Years traditions is setting a resolution. It has become common to dismiss this as a joke, as many people set a goal to lose weight, buy a gym membership, and never go through with it. However, I think that this is a great opportunity to really set goals for yourself and want to give you some tips for achieving your New Years Resolutions.

  • Set reasonable goals for yourself While you may want to do something, sometimes it may not be achievable. It is up to you to determine what you are realistically capable of. You should always set goals to challenge yourself, but never past what you think you can do. I would never set a goal to read an entire novel in an hour, I know that I’m just not capable of reading that fast, but I could set a goal to read it by the end of the week or month. I know I could do that and have enough time to enjoy the book
  • Make a plan for how to accomplish them In my speeches, I have always talked about how important tracking my sales were for me for the Girl Scout Cookie Sale. Every year, I set my large goal, then break it down to see how many I need to sell each week, day, and hour (this also helps me determine if it is a reasonable goal). By setting this plan, I achieve many things. First of all, I’ve made the goal look a lot easier to reach by breaking it up into bite size pieces. I have also determined how many hours I need to spend working on my goal.
  • Set a deadline “A goal is just a dream with a deadline”-Napoleon Hill By setting a deadline for yourself, it is a lot more difficult to procrastinate forever. It is a lot harder to say “I can do this tomorrow” if you have set a deadline of having it done by tonight. Just imagine how many projects that you wouldn’t have completed if you didn’t have a deadline. Same goes for personal goals- if you find that you’re not completing them, set a deadline for yourself.
  • Have an accountability partner Having someone to remind you to accomplish your goals is a great idea. Nobody is perfect, we can forget sometimes or just not be in the mood to do anything that day, so sometimes all you need is a little nudge from a friend to help you along in your goal.

Reaching ALL of your goals

I haven’t posted in a couple weeks because I’ve been very busy with homework, so I wanted to post this week about reaching all of your goals, and not just a few. I set a goal to start posting weekly, but I also set many other goals when the school year started, and even more before that, so once my homework load got larger, posting took the backseat, but I still do want this to be a priority. SO, here is my advice for (1) remembering to take the necessary actions to achieve all of your goals and (2) making sure that you are prioritizing the right things on the right days; get a planner! This can come in many different forms depending on what your preferences are, but the point of a planner is to write down everything that you need to do and perhaps even designate certain days for different things to make sure that you don’t feel overwhelmed to do everything all in one day. For me, I use a planner that I got at the dollar store, which is set up so I can see what I need to do everyday for the entire month. I know that there are also planners that display one week, a few days, or even one day at a time. In addition to this, I have small whiteboards which I also got at the dollar store, and as I have temporary things that I need to do I write them down. Usually I use the whiteboards for writing a to-do list for the same day, like writing down which classes I have homework in as the day goes on.

By creating a planner and writing down  what I need to do on what day, I am much more likely to reach ALL of my goals. Even if you just write a to-do list on a sticky note, that works just as great, because the point is that you should aim to write down all of your goals. Plus, it is very satisfying to be able to check off things as you do them!