Good football coaches emphasize the critical importance of having a specific plan for every single game. Solid game planning involves knowing about our own team’s strengths and potential weaknesses, knowing these same characteristics of the opponent, recognizing the tendencies of the officiating crew, and much more. The best coaches create a competitive advantage with superior game planning and preparation, and by making adjustments in the face of change to continuously guide the team toward victory
If a football team competing without a plan is a recipe for disaster, is it not that much more important to have a game plan for our lives? True goals are not generalizations such as “get better grades,” make more money,” or “lose weight,” but are S.M.A.R.T.; specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. True goals check all the above-mentioned boxes: “earn an A in English next semester,” “make an extra $500 a week by the end of this year,” or “lose 10 pounds this month.” As with so many good habits, much synergy is gained between planning and having goals; strength in one automatically supports growth in the other.
Before we set to planning, we must identify our goal.
- Specific. Precisely articulate what we want to accomplish. Specificity defines success.
- Measurable. Is our goal a one-off or are there milestones that must be achieved in a certain chronology? Describe how progress will be measured.
- Achievable. Do we have the skills needed to reach our goal? If not, can we acquire them? With entrepreneurship, for example, we either possess, develop, hire, outsource, or partner with the skills needed for the mission. If something is not achievable with the resources presently at hand, confidently seek the needed resources. If we cannot find them, revisit the plan (and the goal) to modify as needed.
- Relevant. Is our goal worthwhile? Does it fit with the big picture we see for ourselves? Does our goal align with things that truly matter to us?
- Time-bound. When will we achieve our goal? By implementing a timeline/deadline, we create accountability and a sense of urgency, motivating us to act now.
Divide Our Goals into Manageable Chunks
With an established S.M.A.R.T. goal, we can set to planning—illuminating the path to how to make the goal come true. Without a plan, goals are merely wishes; true goal fulfillment is driven by planning, consistency, and accountability. We may have identified our goal but may not know how to get there. If too big, goals can be overwhelming; this is where many people give up. Instead of quitting, compartmentalize goals into manageable chunks. If our goal is to own a successful business in three years, what do we need to accomplish by this time tomorrow, next week, next month, in six months, in one year, in two years? A plan breaks goals into smaller, incremental steps, with deadlines for completion of each milestone. At times, the mountain may appear insurmountable. We can always climb, one step at a time, making progress daily, never stopping as we allow the goal to pull us toward fulfillment.
Review Our Plan Twice a Day to Stay on Target
Each morning, review the plan. Know what to do—but more importantly—why to do it. Each evening, check in with the accomplishments and the lessons learned, these inform tomorrow’s plan. Taking notes in a “Goal Journal” to start and finish each day can help us stay on track. With big goals, the target may change from day to day. Be flexible, ready to hit pause, and recalibrate the best next steps. Celebrate failure, learn, and build upon hard-earned lessons to proceed more intelligently; sometimes a step back keeps us on the truest course forward. Success doesn’t happen accidentally, it is the result of careful planning, resourcefulness, and consistency, an oasis of self-confidence where goal fulfillment is not a matter of if, but when.
Teaching Children Planning Skills
Mothers can lead by example, carrying children through planning processes, and teaching them to recognize and appreciate the value of preparation. Mom can set expectations for future events by having a family calendar on the refrigerator, which children can personalize by writing down their extra-curricular playdates, sleepovers, deadlines, birthdays, etc.
Baking or cooking activities help children go through a checklist toward a larger end goal. Between ingredients, instructions, and following a sequence (i.e., turn the oven on, gather ingredients, mix ingredients, place in pan, put in the oven, set timer, etc.), children learn how to understand and stick to a plan to accomplish a successful outcome.
Play cards and board games that require some strategy. If children want to win, they’ll have to learn which approaches lead to success. The strategy required to win the game may come naturally at first or it may not. If children struggle to grasp concepts, seize the teaching opportunity, help them learn how to win, and play regularly. With repetition, they’ll learn how to plan a winning strategy on their own. The board game “Trouble” or the card game “Uno” are great ways to help young children develop planning skills. Chess may be the best strategy game of all.
We can teach children to understand planning by helping them plan an event, maybe a birthday party or a family outing; give them real-life training in bringing people together for a celebration. By giving them the reins to write invitations, organize activities, and plan menu choices, we support their autonomy and instill self-confidence. Planning a special occasion requires taking on future responsibilities and continuously managing moving parts to put together an exciting event for friends and family.
When we set out to achieve a goal, it’s important to first take stock, and examine what needs to happen, when it needs to happen, and which levers are most appropriate for making it happen. Think about the big picture first; begin with the end in mind, envision what is needed for success, and work backward from there. Be consistent, flexible, and revisit the plan daily as part of the commitment to prioritizing the best next steps. As Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith said, “There’s a plan in everything kid, and I love it when a plan comes together.”
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”
—Proverbs 21:5 NLT
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PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.