Don’t JUST plan…make your plans MEANINGFUL.

Looking ahead into the new year allows us to create plans for a fresh start.

What will be different this time? How will we make those plans work? What if we need to create plans for someone else (ie. our children)?

The bottom line is these plans must have MEANING.  The tough part is making the connection between where we are at and where we want to be.

So many students, all quite capable, share that they truly believe they can get an A in a class, or improve scores in writing, or perform better across the board.  When it’s time to take action and steps towards these goals, it isn’t enough to simply break down and lay out the plan (of course, this is a key component – the more specific and realistic, the better).  Hoping for the best isn’t going to work either.  What needs to happen is that they make a true projection and connection with what it would be like should the outcome be achieved (or perhaps not be achieved).

Over the years, I have observed that those who find the most success in executing their plans are those who 1) think ahead and anticipate what the outcomes might be and HOW they will get there (what it will take), and 2) consider the cost-benefit of their choices so they can connect with what the outcome would really mean for them.

A few points to consider as you lay out your own plans:

State the desired outcome, then ask WHAT WILL IT TAKE to do this?  Then ask again, AND WHAT WILL THAT TAKE?  Be as specific and realistic as possible. Next, lay out the costs and benefits of both taking and not taking necessary steps.  Then, make notes about what you want to remember as you move along. See our examples below to help get you started!

Example ONE: 

I want to keep up on the laundry.  It will take starting a load every morning.  That will take setting a reminder or two in my phone so I do not forget to get it started, swap it out and make this a habit.  This will take less than a minute!  It will also take my asking for help from the kids to put their own clothes away, and THAT will take consistency on my part to be sure they know WHAT is expected and that they do not earn free time until certain tasks are done.  THIS will take patience on my part and attention to my tone and how I approach assigning tasks and making my “demands” of them.  The costs of NOT doing this are a LOT of added stress, not being able to find clean clothes, we are more likely to be late, and I will probably yell at the kids (and myself) because we are losing time looking for clothes.  The BENEFITS of keeping up are that I will be less stressed – having laundry set and ready makes me feel accomplished.  I will feel more relaxed and ready to start each day on a good note.  It allows me to stay calm as we go through the morning rush, and I have more time to attend to other details (lunches, teeth brushing, backpack checks, etc.).  I need to remember that music or chatting on the phone helps the laundry go by more quickly. I also need to remember that even though the pile looks overwhelming, if I start chipping away, I am usually surprised at how little time and effort it takes to fold or put away a load of clothes.  If I find ways to go through the motions more enjoyably, it’s easier to keep up, and the benefit is a tremendous amount of stress relief.

Example TWO: 
I want to get an A in math this semester.  This will take doing ALL of the homework.  THAT will take writing down the assignments in my planner DURING class and CHECKING it when I get home.  It will also take asking questions AS SOON AS I do not fully understand. This will take marking them in my notebook and making time to go in early if needed.  THIS will take setting extra alarms and making a note in my assignment notebook so I do not forget.  It will also take better study habits for quizzes and tests.  This will take time (set aside time by writing it in assignment notebook) and making a study guide for formulas, rules, examples and steps.  This will take time as well. I need to use my assignment notebook (set alarms to remind me to check it) and lay out the time to prepare.  The costs of NOT focusing on the planning and time management or taking extra time to improve study habits are that I will NOT be able to earn an A and most likely will end up with a C again.  This will make me feel stressed, badly about myself, like I want to quit, and generally crabby.  The BENEFIT of doing these few things consistently is that my grade will quickly come up or stay at an A which will make me incredibly happy and proud. It will motivate me to keep up with these habits and decrease my stress levels considerably.  It will also make me more likely to increase my GPA so I can get into more colleges of my choice.  It will feel AWESOME, and I need to remember that I know the math, but am sabotaging my efforts when I don’t take a little extra time here and there.  I also need to remember that it never takes as long as I think it will to do these steps.

As always, we have some fabulous visual tools to help support and guide you in your efforts.  Check out those products at the link above, and let us know if you have any thoughts or questions.

Happy planning!