Hey there! How’s it going? I want to stop real quick and give us all a big high five and some spirit fingers because… we have made it through January! Can I get a big “YES!!!” Coming off the holidays, getting back to work, the dreary weather… all of it can make for a difficult 31 days but here we are, so congratulations!


One of the things that can really make January hard is if you set goals or resolutions way back on New Year’s Day but you haven’t yet seen them working, or if you just downright walked away from them. It’s hard to feel a sense of failure, especially this early in the year. That’s why I wanted to round out the month with some encouragement if you feel like you already missed the mark, or if you have a kid feeling the same way.


Stop Beating Yourself Up


It just does absolutely no good, right? So why do it? And yet we often tell ourselves alarmingly negative things when we feel like we haven’t done well at something. But we’ve gotta get ourselves back on the positive side of that number line when it comes to how we talk to ourselves. I’ve shared these ideas for better self-talk for your kids before, and there’s lots of good stuff on there no matter your age. Because telling yourself “I can’t do this,” “I should’ve known better,” or “I’ll never get this right” won’t get you where you need to be. We’ve got to stop and change those thoughts if we want to move forward.


Analyze What Went Wrong


While beating yourself up isn’t the right plan of action, a break in your goal-getting is a good time to analyze what went wrong. Was the goal too big? Did you need to allot more time to it? Did you get distracted? All of these hurdles (and many more) can stand in the way of achieving a goal. Knowing what ultimately caused you to abandon the thing you wanted to change is crucial to getting back in the saddle and trying again. Once you know what the problem was, you can make a new plan.


Make a New Plan


Which brings us to the next step: thinking of a new way to achieve the goal. This may mean minor tweaks to an original plan, a major overhaul of how you are approaching the goal, or just starting over with new resolve. But once you stop beating yourself up and figure out what went wrong, you can easily devise a new strategy and get started again. And sometimes that’s all it takes: starting again.


Remember, Something is Better Than Nothing (and big changes can happen over time).


Look, some progress is better than no progress, and I think that deserves to be celebrated as you look at any perceived failure. To make this super applicable, think about it this way: Say your child set a goal of getting into the 30-5 club. Prior to that, they were just doing the Odds or Evens on any given day. After two weeks, they are still struggling to get through, say, 24 problems in any given day. They are frustrated and want to give up.


But 24 problems–that’s way more than 15 problems! That’s an increase of 60% in problems done per day! And, over the course of 120 lessons (the number of lessons in most Saxon books), they’ll be doing –get this– 1,080 more problems than if they stuck with the Odds/Evens system. That’s quite an improvement, even if it’s not completion of the original goal. So celebrate that, and use that momentum to move forward even more.


Now tell me, do you have a goal you’ve already made some headway on this year? Is your child working toward a math goal (or any other kind of goal)? Let me hear about what you’re working on! I love to see my students (and their teachers!) succeed. I hope that you both accomplish every goal you’ve made for this year and that this makes it a little easier to get back on track.


Talk to you soon,

Nicole the Math Lady