Baby Steps: Heights Mentors Goals for Mentees in the New Year

Welcome to the new year! In a recent Mentor’s Compass episode, Alex Berthe discussed the importance of setting concrete and simple goals. For most of us, simply deciding to “be better” or “get better grades” or “get in shape” won’t cut it. We need simple things to keep in mind throughout the day. Here is a list of some of the simple things that our mentors might encourage their boys to try this new year.

  • RISE (MAKE, SHOWER, EAT) THEN SHINE: Those first moments of the day are crucial, which is why our headmaster literally mentions them to the entire student body annually–no snooze (on the alarm that YOU set), make your bed, take a shower, eat your breakfast, then go out and crush the day.
  • TRY A NEW MORNING OFFERING: We are big on the morning offering at The Heights. Mike Ortiz actually wrote a book about it! Here’s another morning offering you might try: “Lord, this is so hard… Lord, I am so tired… help me get through this for you, Lord.” Sometimes prayer really is that simple.
  • A SIMPLE ASK: Ask mom and dad every day if they need help with anything. Every mom and dad knows that the mere question makes you go weak in the knees with joy. “Can I help with lunches?” “Can I scrape off the icy car?” “Can I watch junior?” This is a parent’s love language.
  • VISIT HIM: If you are at a school with a chapel, and especially a school with the Blessed Sacrament, start and end each school day with a quick visit. He’s been waiting for you there for eternity.
  • “G’MORNING!” Are you shy? If so, simply work on saying “hello” to the secretaries or gatekeepers at your school on a daily basis. You will see very quickly how folks respond to friendship. Here’s the plan: eye contact, smile, greeting. Now execute!
  • SHOCKER… BE EARLY! What would it feel like to be early to your first class? Try it consistently for the first period of the day. It’s a great way to begin.
  • PENCIL AND NOTEBOOKS: Despite the fact that pencils and notebooks have been used for hundreds of years, they have become cool again. CEOs and Titans of Tech tote their custom notebooks and deluxe pens. Start that habit now. Treat your planner like a small child–keep it neat, organized, check it often, share it with your friends. If you haven’t heard from it in a while, ask it what is going on. Your planner can be a steadfast companion. And, start every class with two sharpened pencils or a working pen. “Can I borrow a pen?” is a terrible first impression for any teacher.
  • SOMETHING PHYSICAL: Do something, every day, no matter how small, to get stronger. Maybe it’s one push up? Doesn’t matter. Get in the habit of caring for your body. If you need help putting a system in place, seek it out from your school’s athletic staff.
  • SIMPLE INTEREST: Ask mom and dad questions about their work, their past, their day.
  • VISIT HIM AGAIN! For older students who live close to a parish, go to Adoration once a week.
  • FIND YOUR TRANSITION RITUAL: And, interesting one: find an “active reset.” If you have a difficult time getting down to difficult and deep work, doing something you like as a transition to starting the difficult activity can help, especially if it becomes habit. This reminds us of Cal Newport’s emphasis on rituals before deep work. A snack, a quick walk, shooting free throws–all can provide the activation energy needed to get down to serious business, especially if they become a part of your routine.
  • WRITTEN STUDY PLAN: Make a written list of how a particular study time will be used, either writing down tasks that should be crossed out when finished or breaking down the time by allocating a specific amount of time to studying different thing.
  • PACK IT UP! Finish the day by packing up for the next. Your early a.m. will be far less stressful, and you are less likely to forget things.
  • EXPELL THE DEVICEIf you are sleeping with a device, laptop, gameboy, phone, or anything digital in your room, you are shooting yourself in the foot. This isn’t just a cranky Heights teacher talking–it’s science implemented by leaders all over the country. Try it for a week.
  • FAST ON SATURDAY: So many families have the sound policy of limiting electronics to weekends. What if you fasted from video games on Saturday? What would you do with that time? Serve? Study? Read? Imagine the possibilities!

Should you print these off and execute all of them? If you are Captain America, yes. If not (hint: none of you are) pick one or two that correspond to an area of weakness. For example, if you are unorganized, focus on making your bed and caring for your notebook; if you struggle with your relationship with God, hit the chapel; if your fitness is an issue, do one simple thing daily to get your body into fighting form.

Most importantly, have someone who keeps you accountable. At The Heights, this is your mentor AND your parents. Everywhere else, it should still be…a mentor and your parents. Write it down and demand it from yourself.

Good luck this new year!

What resolutions have worked for you in the past? Let everyone know in the comments section below.

Rich Moss

About the author:

Rich Moss


Rich earned his B.A. and J.D. degrees, both Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Notre Dame, in 2005 and 2008 respectively. Prior to returning to his alma mater to lead its Admissions Office in 2010, Rich was an associate attorney in the Energy and Trial Practice groups of Jones Day in Washington D.C. While working as an attorney, Rich was also the vice-president of The Heights Alumni Association. During law school, Rich was an Article Editor for the Notre Dame Law Review. Rich graduated from The Heights in 2001. In addition to his work in the Admissions Office, Rich teaches AP US Government and is the faculty advisor to the Rock Climbing Club. He resides in Wheaton, Maryland and is a parishioner at St. Andrew Apostle in Silver Spring. When he’s not introducing new families to The Heights, you might spot Mr. Moss biking around Wheaton with his awesome wife and four youngsters, or climbing Carderock with his fellow Heights alumni climbing partners!

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