Problem Solving

The previous topics, finding your why and asking questions, are not only important for planning but also for problem solving. We must make decisions everyday of our lives. A perfect example of how my “why” helped me to press forward. At the end if my freshman year of college, I made two “C”s. I felt so sad and I walked around looking pitiful. My friends did everything but laugh at me as I sat in despair thinking I was doomed. They did not understand the damage two “C”s had on a GPA. I had an academic scholarship that was dependent on me maintaining a 3.0 at all times. I felt lost and did not know what to do.

I gave myself a few weeks to recover, but once I refocused, I was able to make additional plans. Let me be honest with you, it was hard to stop myself from fearing the worse. I actually had to spend long hours in bible readings and prayer before I could realize new plans that would compensate for the loss of revenue. It was going to be hard work but I was finally ready. The summer before my college sophomore year, I worked and saved most of the money for the purpose of registering for the new school year.  Unfortunately, I did not have anyone to help me with paying for college. All of the financial and emotional pressures were on my shoulders to carry alone, but in the planning process, I realized this would be one of the challenges. I was already committed to persevering. Quitting was not an option.

First semester was the focus and I was going to tackle second semester after I had jumped that hurdle of first semester. I asked financial aid questions and their answers helped me toThe registrar accepted what I had as a deposit and I signed a written agreement regarding the monthly payments. Work study earnings were all saved and it paid the remaining semester balance.  I finished the semester debt free and regained my scholarship for the second semester when my GPA hit above the 3.0 requirements. It was a year full of excitement, heartache, and a beautiful victory.  Doing the homework during the planning process helps us to consider options that are available. Remember, you always have choices. I asked financial aid questions and asked for arrangements. This process of problem solving has helped me to push through many tough situations.

Advertisements

Why Finale

We have reached our finale for why do we plan. This third and final part will conclude the questions we need to ask ourselves when making realistic and accomplishable tasks.  Planning is a very personable thing. It can be frustrating at times or even overwhelming, but it also can be a most helpful tool. Since my family growing up used planners on a limited basis, I never viewed planning as a chore. I did not HAVE to do it, but I chose to. Today, I still see it as a choice and an opportunity for self reflection.

The last questions will challenge us to think of our goals as being important. A challenge to see them as bigger than a thing to accomplish by ourselves. Accomplishing our goals will require support. We must remember that true success is best achieved with helping hands. This support can come from simple words of encouragement to someone actually working beside you to help you win in this game of life. Let’s take a look at our last few questions.

Where do I go to get help in achieving this goal?
(This all depends on the goal. There are associations and groups for just about every interest. There are also Conferences of various types that bring ideas and products together to help with one general type of need. For further direction, you can test your knowledge on topics you need to know. Then, think about who can answer those questions. If it is a fitness goal, the “where” for you may be the gym to speak with personal trainers.)

When do I want to complete this goal?
(This is your timeline. Does this goal have a deadline? Is this a long term goal?)

How will I accomplish this goal?
(Review all of the questions and your answers from the “Why” series. All of the previous questions will help to make this part easier. When you pull all the answers together, you get an idea of how. The how serves as the outline for your plans.)

I think we all would like the satisfaction of feeling complete peace and celebratory praise after accomplishing a goal. The best way to WIN is to make sure your goals and plans are a honest reflection of you. You are unique and complex and so are your goals and plans. Don’t let fear of failing or success snatch your dream. Please be patient with the process of reaching goals because surprises can still manage to pop up here and there. It is your “why” that will help you to maintain focus and keep moving forward.

Why Part Two

Our last post helped us to understand our why in setting goals and making plans. There is more to it and we dive into a few more questions that will help you understand the planning process. This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Let’s jump right into it…

What will hinder you in achieving this goal?
(This is the time to be honest with yourself. Do you self sabotage by procrastinating or allowing distractions? Is there someone in authority who will pull you in a separate direction? Are there demands on your time or schedule that you can not compromise or change?)

What will change or need to change?
(Will you have to move? Will your schedule have to change? Most things require time and energy and it is very important to be very realistic about where all of this will fit with your lifestyle. It is this part that people overlook, but must not when making realistic goals.)

Some people may ask “where do I began?”
(Take time to gather information about the topic. Make sure to note if there are various steps indicated in obtaining your goal. Also note if those steps also have timelines. Are experts in that area available to answer questions? Can you find a mentor in that area to help you understand all of the expectations?)

The next post will conclude our “Why” series. What other questions do you ask yourself when setting goals and making plans? Share them with us in the comment section below. We would like to hear from you.

Goals First

The Little Red engine faced his biggest challenge, and as he climbed the hill, he encouraged himself. He repeated, “I think I can, I think I can.”   Getting to the top was his goal and pure hope and determination gave him the strength to push forward. Like that engine, we will face mountains we will need to climb. Goals strengthen us because the only way to the other side is to push past challenges.  I define goals as a hope for a specific outcome. It serves as motivation and a guide. Goals are to be placed as the first priority in the planning process. It is most important and should not be overlooked.

Years ago, I worked in direct sales, and controlled when and how I worked my business. I decided what I would do after I established my financial and leadership goals.  I worked very hard, but I was disappointed at the end of each month. I had to ask myself, are these the wrong goals?  I gave myself time, and and after a while, I began to understand the company’s sales algorithms. The top salespeople sold a certain  number of units each week consistently. They encouraged us to only work on the things we could control. We can not control who would buy or what they would buy, but we could control how many people we spoke to each day. We could control how many phone calls we made each day. I began to realize that consistency in the things that I can control was my best form of accountability. It was also my favorite measure of success. Success was not based on the outcome but on my consistency as I met each challenge.

My goals changed from being result oriented and became action oriented in describing my desired outcome.  For example,  instead of saying I want to sell $1,000.00 in products, I say I want to sell 100 units to reach my goal of $1,000.00. In turn, I’ve changed the way I plan.  My plans became task oriented and served as helpful action points in achieving the prize. For example, I can plan to speak to 10 people a day (which can make approximately 3 sales).

This example of an action oriented goal can be changed to even meet student’s needs. For example, instead of saying I want an A on my math test, I would say I want to study 2 additional hours this week to make an A on my test. My task oriented plans may include studying math facts and practicing additional problems for 30 minutes each day.  Those 30 minutes do not include the normal time I take completing homework assignments. You may need 30 minutes with a tudor or a teacher, and that is to be written into the plan. These are only examples in helping you to understand goal setting and the role it plays in planning.

I conclude with words of encouragement. Life is full of the unexpected. There will be times when things do not work out. Planning does not shield us from people hurting our feelings. It does not shield us from disappointments.  I have learned to have faith in God and this has produced true confidence.  I believe that God blesses beyond anything my efforts alone can produce, so I include prayers as an active part of the planning process. Planning is not a perfect remedy, but God gives me perfect peace with whatever comes. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3