Professional DevelopmentUncategorized

Making Resolutions That Stick

Every year, I find that I have 2 New Year’s.  One begins in September & goes through the academic year.  The other follows a more ‘grown-up’ route of starting in January.  Both lead to many resolutions & ideas.  Both are instrumental in my growth professionally & personally.  And the only way I found to make resolutions stick is to transfer them into specific goals.

Goal Setting Inspiration

For 2017, I took inspiration from two different sources.

The Inner Circle 4-Week Challenges, which have morphed into Growth Journals, have been instrumental in focusing my attention on setting attainable goals for different aspects of my life: pedagogy, technology, business, & personal.  By setting 1-2 goals in each category, I have been able to stay focused on what needs to be done rather than the latest idea that I come across.

Recently, I joined the Studio Challenge on Facebook.  It is an amazing & supportive community of independent music teachers.  Shane posts monthly challenges to help teachers focus on various aspects of their teaching or business.  This month, the challenge is to set goals & make a plan for: the rest of the semester (before summer), one year (2017), & five years (before 2022).  For myself, the rest of the semester was pretty easy & a full year was not too bad.  But, thinking ahead five years was beyond what I have done in quite some time.


The 2017 List

In keeping with the holistic approach of the Inner Circle & the longer range planning of the Studio Challenge, below is the general list of what I hope to accomplish this year.  And, I am hoping that you will keep me accountable as well.


  • Read several pedagogy books: I have a list of 3 books on a spreadsheet & will add to the list as I finish each set of books.  I have started with “Play It Again, Sam” by Marianne Uszler.  So far, I have enjoyed how she breaks down the role of repetition in practice as well as how repetition changes depending on the desired end result.
  • Practice piano for myself a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days a week:  In May, I began taking lessons again after a nearly 20 year break.  While I am making progress, regular practice will make a big difference.  To help me with this goal, I downloaded the  Better Habits app.  By setting the days I will practice each week & challenge level (I chose 67 repetitions before it is considered a formed habit), I can keep myself accountable.  If I miss a day, not a problem.  But, if by the end of the week I have not completed my weekly repetitions … I lose a repetition off my overall total for each day I missed.
  • Work on my music theory homework a minimum of 5 minutes, 5 days a week:  Once I am done my practice at the piano, I will be turning around a doing a quick bit of theory.  After such a long break from lessons, my theoretical knowledge definitely went downhill.  Already I have seen an improvement in how I have been able to explain concepts to students & how I have approached music in general.  With regular practice, I should be able to regain the knowledge I’ve lost as well as move into new & exciting topics!
  • Spend at least 25% of my teaching time on my feet:  Jennifer inspired me after reading her “Sit or Stand?” article.  As I get older, I am realizing how important it is to stay active … or at least not sit so much.  And, once I did the math this goal seemed like an easy way to stay energized throughout my teaching day.  This breaks down to 7.5 minutes (30 minute lessons), 11.25 minutes (45 minute lessons), & 15 minutes (lab time programming).


There will be changes coming up here at The Unfinished Lesson, but those will come up later.  Needless to say, some of those goals will fall under this category.  But in my studio, there is just one big goal.

  • Create a YouTube student playlist for each method book & level I use:  I will be taking inspiration from Piano Safari & others for this goal.  I would like to create teaching, review, & performance videos for each of the songs my students will be learning.  Since it is such a huge undertaking, I am beginning with the method that I use the most & moving down the line until I get to the one I use the least.  Will I achieve this goal by the end of 2017?  Who knows.  But, it will provide an important resource for my current & future students.


  • Set aside 15 minutes per week to enter in expenses:  We all have certain parts of our job that we would rather shuffle to the bottom of the list.  Bookkeeping is mine.  (But, shh.  That can stay our secret.)  Every year at tax time, I scramble to get everything ready.  And, every year I promise myself & my husband (who gets dragged into the data entry process) that it will be different next year.  Well … THIS is the year!  By setting aside a short period of time each week, I should be able to stay on top of the numbers &, dare I say, have a much less stressful tax time?
  • Make a growth plan for my studio AND The Unfinished Lesson:  This is where you come in.  I would greatly appreciate your feedback so that I can plan content that help you in YOUR goals for 2017.  As a thank you, I am including a practice planner to make practice run that little bit smoother during the week.
  • Increase my monthly income by 5%:  How to do this without increasing my teaching hours is the first step in accomplishing this goal.  A small increase in tuition for the fall will be a start, but more brainstorming will be required to ensure this becomes a reality.


  • Exercise a minimum of 60 minutes, 2 times per week:  I did mention that as I got older I am realizing how important it is to stay active?  Between yoga & the Wii, I am hoping to make this a habit.  Now that I have discovered the “Just Sweat” portion of the Just Dance video game, I really have no excuse when the weather gets cold.  (Though for the sake of transparency, I will point out that I do not look nearly as cool or graceful as any of the avatars dancing on the screen.  Hence why I close the blinds so the neighbours do not need to witness the debacle & I can continue to pretend I actually am matching what is on the screen.)
  • Meditate or nap 10 minutes per day:  The twins were almost a year old before they finally let me nap during the day.  Needless to say, this mommy needed an afternoon nap for a full year after they dropped theirs.  Years later I don’t necessarily need a nap, but the documented benefits of meditation & short naps are hard to deny.  So, here is to more energy even at the end of my teaching evening!
  • Drink at least 64 oz. of water-based liquids per day:  I can’t give up my tea, especially herbal teas.  But as we have headed into the incredible dryness of winter, ironically I find myself drinking less liquids. (This goal originally read as 8 oz. of water, instead of eight 8 oz glasses.  When I realized the typo I couldn’t stop laughing since 1 glass of water would probably be the easiest goal on the list to achieve.)
  • End each day remembering 3 things that went well or I am thankful for:  Developing a more positive outlook on life has been a process for over a decade & often conflicts with my perfectionist tendencies.  Each morning, I say a thank you for having a home to live in, a spouse who loves me, healthy children, plus enough to put food on the table & clothing on our backs.  By the end of the day though, it can be hard to remember the great parts of the day … especially if my ‘angels’ are nearing 2 weeks of vacation & this mommy is needing away time so I have a chance to miss them.  Ending the day on a positive will hopefully help me as I continue my journey.

Helping You Accomplish Your Goals

This is the time of year when many individuals set their own business, teaching & personal goals.  In order to help you reach YOUR goals, would you consider filling out a short survey (less than 10 questions, approximately 5-10 minutes to complete)?

Once you have filled me in on how I can help you,  I will be using that information to tailor content that help you in YOUR goals for 2017.  As a thank you, I will be emailing the practice planner I use with my students & has made such a difference in how effective their practice time is during the week.

Thank you in advance!  Have a great weekend.

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