Failing to plan is planning to fail.  How many times do well-intended goals fail? How many  keep their New Year’s resolutions beyond the first week or the first month? How often do study hours evaporate? How many reports are late? How many diets fail? Countless examples demonstrate that despite the best of intentions, planning alone provides insufficient incentive to achieve a goal.

Successful planning involves three stages. Following these steps can help someone attain almost any goal:PIE.  Look below for a practical implementation for a study plan.

PLAN: Before students begin a new topic, send out a questionnaire. Ask them to complete and submit it prior to their first session. The questions on it include the student’s desired outcome on the assessment or project. The students usually have an easy answer to this.  But then the questions require more thinking: Ask HOW they will achieve their goals? How much time will they devote to their task? When will they fit it into their schedule? Once they respond, they can move to the next step.

IMAGINE: Once they have considered their tentative study methods and time, they must think about the obstacles that they may face. Obstacles ALWAYS exist, so envisioning them is  crucial step to learning how to overcome them. According to psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside The New Science Of Motivation, facing obstacles is important. For example, if a student cites social media as a distraction, he can face the challenge by shutting off a smartphone, or changing the setting to “Do not Disturb” during scheduled study hours. Thinking about several impediments to a desired goal and considering how to face them is required for success. Elite athletes and professional musicians practice relentlessly to perfect their skills.  A runner who sees a hurdle can jump over it rather than stumble. After honestly assessing the obstacles to the goal and deciding how to address them, it’s time to put the plan in place.

EXECUTE: Now it’s time to work! . As a reminder and motivator, post the plan with obstacles and work-arounds within view.  Enjoy the PIE!


Laura Maniglia