Linda and I dropped off our third and last child for college yesterday. It’s a whole new chapter for us.
Some of you enrolled your child in Kindergarten this week. It’s a whole new chapter for you.
But for everyone with school age kids, and for every student reading this, it’s also a whole new chapter for you.
The school year has begun. And even though New Year’s Day is more than four months away, most of us think of the year in terms of the school year. School has begun. What’s it going to look like this year? When you celebrate the end-of-the-year and the beginning of summer vacation next June, what will you be looking back on? How will you have defined the year then?
That is up to you.
There will be some unforeseen circumstances that you will not have control over. But for the most part, you’ve got a blank slate and the opportunity to determine the outcome of a whole school year in front of you. So let me give you just a couple of pointers to make the most of it.
• Set some goals. Not many, just a few (3-4). Ask yourself what you would like to change about yourself or about your circumstances. What do you want to accomplish over the next nine months? How would you like to characterize this next year? Then, write those goals down and put them in a prominent place so that you see them regularly. Research shows that those with written goals accomplish ten times more than those who do not write their goals down. So pray about it, but then put some goals in writing.
• Create a strategy. How are you going to see those goals accomplished? Again, write it down. Include some barriers that might be in the way. How will you remove those barriers? What are some things in your environment or time use that need to be changed in order to see these goals through? What effort on your part needs to become disciplined?
• Plan your accomplishment. If you don’t plan, you won’t do it. In other words, you have to get some things into your calendar or daily schedule and commit to following through. And again, you have to do this in writing. If one of your goals is to lose 20 lbs., you strategize how (i.e. stopping at one portion, working out), and then you actually put your work-out times in your calendar. If your goal is to have a 3.5 gpa this year, you decide what things need to change about the way you do daily work, prepare for tests, and work on projects. Then you put that into your daily routine and weekly calendar.
You have this new gift in front of you. Next June, so many things will be different. Whether or not those different things are good or bad are largely determined by whether or not you take this advice. If you set some good and workable goals, thoughtfully strategize and then put a plan in writing, this could be your best school year yet. But again, that’s up to you.
And here’s the thing, when we take control of the things we can control, when we set goals, strategize and plan, we put ourselves in the position to respond well and handle the unforeseen things that will undoubtedly come. By having clear direction in life, unexpected hurdles simply make the journey more interesting. But if your life is chaotic and unplanned, surprise developments can send us into turmoil. You prepare for the unexpected by setting goals, strategizing for their accomplishment, and writing out your plan of action.
This was pretty much written for Brock, who is starting his first year in college. But I thought I’d let the rest of you in on it as well. Now go after it!