Plan for success

I was thinking recently about the students and courses I will teach this year. I am planning to discuss with my students how they can better plan for success at the beginning of the course. As I have mentioned before, it seems a lot of people just hope for success, without being specific about what they want to accomplish. So, I came up with a set of five sentences to complete in order to help students plan for success.

Everyone knows that to be fit, they need to exercise regularly. So how to be fit is obvious, but still many people are not fit. If you can find a reason why fitness is important to you first, then how to be fit will naturally follow without much effort. Instead, people spend huge amounts of time and money on how to be successful, without first sorting out why success is important. So, start by finishing the sentence, “Success in this course is important to me because…”

Once you have figured out your why, be specific about what success means to you. That is, what goals do you want to accomplish? Being definite here is really important since it focuses you on a clear destination. If you get in your car, heading to a place you have never been to, it is important to know the address! So, finish the sentence, “The goals I have for this course are…”

Next, write down exactly what you are prepared to do to achieve your goals. This is your action plan. Just knowing where you want to get to is not enough, since you need specific directions and you need to follow them too! So, finish this sentence, “I am prepared to do the following to reach my goals…”

At times you may find obstacles in your way, so be flexible in changing your plan. There may be many other routes to your destination, so choose another one if you meet with some temporary setback. Be clear on what you will do differently from the past, so that you will improve. So, if you meet with difficulties as you surely will, complete the sentence, “I am going to make the following changes to my plan…”

Finally, write down why you believe you are capable of achieving your goals. This shows that you believe your goals are possible for you to accomplish. This belief is what will lead you to never give up. You can think of belief as the gas in the tank of your car which causes action. Finish this sentence, “I believe I am capable of achieving my goals because…”

So, make the effort to finish these sentences for yourself at the beginning of your courses this year. In the comments, please let me know how it felt to write things down on paper and what difference this makes for you this year.

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