Planning Requires Setting a Goal: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 7)

Have you heard the old adage that “those who fail to plan, plan to fail”? It’s true! Planning takes time, effort and skill.

There are four practical steps that can be taken when making plans for your future, whatever that may entail. Let’s call them the four steps for setting goals and apply them to your career plans.

The first thing is to establish what it is that you want to do. Duh! But it is critically important that you set an exact and realistic goal. Be specific.

If you want to get a car, what kind of car? A Lamborghini? Good luck. Not realistic. A midsize sedan? OK. What brand? What year? Even, what colour?

The more precise the goal, the better. An exact goal makes you focus.

Respecting careers, choosing to be a nurse or a medic or a lab tech is easier to fulfill than “hoping” to get a career in “health care.” There are no programs available for “health care,” only for specific health care related professions. Again, know exactly what you want.

Once a specific career goal has been determined, set an exact time frame in which you plan to accomplish what is reasonably necessary to fulfill your goal. “Sometime or later or one day…” rarely happen. A specific goal to be accomplished by a specific time is more doable than a “possible goal” for “sometime.”

Now that you have a goal and time frame in mind, the next step is to properly plan how you will accomplish it. That is, what do you need to do in order to get to where you want to be by the time you have determined? Call this the “vehicle” you will use to get to where you want to go.

Again, a specific goal by a specified time with a specific plan on how this will be done is much more likely to happen than being “ho hum,” apathetic, careless or presumptuous. Remember, the world owes you nothing! You have to make it happen.

Finally, the last step to effective goal setting. However, before discussing this, let me tell you that failing to take this step into consideration is the main reason people fail to realize their goals.

So, after having set an “exact goal” to be accomplished in a “reasonable time,” using a “predetermined vehicle” (manner) in which to do so, determine what you are prepared to give up in order to accomplish your goal.

Yep, you heard me right! Any and all things come at a cost and usually the one who wants to accomplish something is the one who has to pay. There are very few examples of getting something for nothing. Come to think of it, even the proverbial “free lunch” cost somebody something.

If you want to accomplish something, it is going to cost you something: maybe money, likely time, usually effort, but certainly something.

At this point in your goal setting, you have the option of demonstrating wisdom, which is to be in control of the situation, or foolishness, by letting chance decide. Let me give you another analogy to help you understand what I am trying to say.

Imagine a table that is full of water bottles, forty-eight of them, each representing half an hour. The table is completely full as is everybody’s twenty-four hours in a day. No more, no less.

Let’s say someone has a new goal that will require an additional half-hour a day. Since we are all limited to the twenty-four hours we have, something will have to go if we are to engage in this new half-hour long activity each day.

Now, there are two approaches to this problem. Most people will simply try to shove a new bottle onto the existing table.

When this approach is taken, what do you think happens? One bottle, sometimes two, maybe three, are going to fall off. There is room for only forty-eight bottles on anyone’s table of time.

If this is left up to chance, which ones do you think are going to fall off? Could it be that if chance is given control, it is the most important things that are removed or neglected, like our relationship with God, or other important duties?

How many people on their deathbed say, “I wish I had spent more time at the office?” None. What is usually said is, “I wish I had spent more time with my wife and children” or “I should have developed a deeper relationship with and lived more for the Lord.”

Consider that God is not the God of chance. He is a wise God and therefore the God of wisdom, which leaves nothing to chance. So who do you think is the “god” of chance?

Rather than foolishly giving control of your life to chance, wisdom would dictate that you choose which bottle will be replaced on your table of time.

Select which bottle or bottles, depending on the daily amount of time required to accomplish your reasonable goal, within a reasonable time.

Choose one or ones that can be discarded without harm. A little less sleep, reading, TV or gaming. Pick something that won’t negatively impact your life, but rather, improve it.

That’s called being in control. People should determine what they’re prepared to give up in order to realize their goal, even before they begin. If you don’t, it will end up costing you something you will regret having given up in the end, or more likely, will prevent you from realizing your goal at all.

Set an exact goal, to be completed in a reasonable time using a specific vehicle and don’t forget to be willing to wisely determine what you are prepared to give up to accomplish it. Do this and you will likely succeed more often than fail.

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