7 Questions to Measure Success

Here’s a quick survey for you: Being an elementary school counselor can be







All of the above


My guess is that on any given day you could answer: All of the Above. As employees of a school system, we of course have yearly evaluations regarding our success at meeting the standards of the job. My experience is that they don’t even come close to providing the kind of feedback that we need to keep growing as counselors and just as important, improving in our abilities to help kids these days. Maybe you have a different experience and you are blessed with a supportive and insightful administration and/or a supportive and energetic counseling department that is dedicated to helping everyone stay on the cutting edge of new counseling strategies and techniques.

Reflections on Your Daily Experience

In either case, I think it can be helpful to have a personal standard by which to measure your successes and failures on a regular basis. What if you had a few simple questions that would help you evaluate and grow daily? What if you tried to be your personal best every day, rather than comparing yourself to others?   In his excellent book, Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts/Becoming the Person You Want to Be, business coach, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that we all ask ourselves the following questions each day.

Did I do my best to:
Set clear goals?
Make progress toward goal achievement?
Find meaning?
Be happy?
Build positive relationships?
Be fully engaged and present?

This is a revolutionary approach to living each day because it takes the responsibility for our actions and feelings off of others and puts it squarely where it belongs… on our own shoulders.  While Goldsmith is recommending these questions to adults, I think they are quite relevant to kids as well.  They would work well in a counseling session with a student. Here’s what it might look like:

  • What was your goal today?
  • What progress did you make?
  • How did you create your own meaning?  This doesn’t have to be philosophical and deep.  Maybe you were being creative, social, learning something new or helping someone out.
  • Did you choose to be happy?  How did that turn out?  If you were unhappy, how could you turn that around tomorrow?
  • Did you build positive relationships with your co-workers, family and friends?  What are some examples? What did you do that was kind?  helpful?
  • Were you fully engaged and present… did you give all your attention to what you were doing at the moment?

I know that these questions are challenging.  I’ve started asking myself these questions every day myself and many days I fall short.  But the important thing is to reflect, share and grow both as a professional and a role model for our students.  Let me know how it works out.

The Elementary School Counselor’s Book of Lesson Plans

Thirty-two lesson plans with activities, discussion starters, assessments and questionnaires to keep students engaged all year while developing critical thinking skills and growth mindset.

elementary school counselor




  1. Anna on July 19, 2016 at 9:06 am

    I love those questions Lynne – for adults and children alike and this is the second reference to the book Triggers I’ve seen – so it is definitely on my “to purchase” list! I totally agree that focusing on making each day the best it can be far outweighs a big fancy vacation.

    • Lynne Watts on July 19, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      It’s my newest read Ann, so yes, I’ve referenced it on more than one occasion! It is a book from executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, but the information is relevant for anyone who wants to make changes in their lives. Hope you enjoy it as well:)

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