Fresh notebooks, a new planner, unused pens and pencils: choosing and buying these things is such a thrilling experience. The beginning of the school year holds such tantalizing possibility, and the newness of all the school supplies is a tangible reminder of your clean slate, for both grades and expectations.
How do you make your expectations for this year and your achievement align? By deciding and acting today to prepare to do better this year than you’ve ever done before.
I’m not just talking about grades, either. Achieving your spiritual, educational, and personal goals has everything to do with knowing exactly what you want to do in those areas, and preparing yourself for success in each of them. I challenge you to make a list today of your goals in each area, and then make it official: type them up and print several copies for your Bible and school notebooks, and then also make one visual representation ofthem for a poster in your room.
Make your goals measurable by concrete evidence, so you know whether or not you’ve accomplished them. As you’re thinking about your goals, here is some advice for each area, along with supplies needed to keep you organized: spiritually, educationally, and personally.
To be a light in your school, begin each day with Bible study and prayer. Seek God in the morning in His Word, giving Him the priority and honor He deserves in your life, and reminding yourself that you need Him each day to guide you and fill you up with His power and wisdom. Write down spiritual goals additional to daily morning quiet time with God that are specific to you: your talents, challenges, and friends.
- Sticky notes: Write down a memory verse from your morning reading and some keywords from your prayer that you want to keep on your heart throughout the day. Stick this note in your locker door, in your planner, or inside a binder you carry all day—wherever you’ll see it most often.
- Backpack Bible: These are available for $10-12 in Christian bookstores and online. Wal-Mart and Target even have a few. Think of the light you shine when you pull out your Bible to check a verse or read for a few minutes if you’re finished with your homework. But it’s not just about the image of being a Christian student: God’s Word is powerful, and can give you the strength and wisdom to get through your school day.
Decide not just what letter grades you want to earn, but other, more specific goals. For example, did you have a problem last year with putting off math homework until you got to school the day it was due? Make it a goal to get it done at home the night before so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. Or did you finish English needing some extra credit? Decide you’re going to read enough library books to earn what you lacked last year. To make these goals as specific as possible, you might want to add on to them after you’ve heard the teacher’s policies on the first day of school.
- Planner: This is an essential item: Use it not just to juggle extracurriculars, but also to write down tests and paper deadlines. Use a special-colored ink or a highlighter for these important dates, so they don’t sneak up on you. This is a great place to stick your daily quiet time Post-It note, so keep it with you all day.
- Notebook or binder for each class: It’s best to buy an assortment of these, and then after your first day of school, decide what you need for each class. You can tell a lot about how you should organize yourself for a class after you’ve gotten your syllabus and heard the teacher’s expectations for you. Once you’ve gotten yourself organized for each class, make some specific goals for each and put them inside the notebook or binder for that class.
Personal Goals: What talents has God given you that you need to be using in your school? Think about the times last school year when you really shined: you were proud of what you’d achieved. How can you do that and more this year? Also think about how you let yourself down last year, and how you can do better. How have you changed for the better over the summer, and how do you want to show those changes this year?
- Journal: This might not be something you carry to school, lest you worry all day about someone reading it, but it’s a great comfort to sort things out in writing. Keep your goal list inside this notebook or look at it from time to time so you can see how you’re doing. This could even be your Bible study notebook, and your entries can be written as personal prayers to God, like David’s Psalms. To see how you’re doing personally, you’ve got to stay in touch with yourself: reflect on your day, explore your feelings on what happened, question whether or not you did the right thing, and figure out what you should do next.