A Lesson Plan for Life

Can someone please tell me when the month of August ceased being summertime?  I am becoming a militant mom on a “save our summer” campaign as it seems summer break is getting shorter and shorter each year.

Isn’t August still a time for being a “floatin’ fool in the swimming pool”, savoring backyard barbecues with friends, attending carnivals, state fairs & baseball games, sipping ice coffee & having conversations on the patio in the cool of the evening after a sweltering day, enjoying late night ice cream sundaes in front of a newly rented movie and sleeping in as late as you want in the morning! It is truly the best of the “dog days of summer” …no schedules, no agenda…just enjoying the easy living of summer!

A few photos of what we have been doing this week!

These days summer seems to come to a screeching halt by the end of July as more and more schools are choosing early start dates instead of the traditional day after Labor Day, 1st day of school. My life has been affected by this evolution….with dear darling hubby working at an educational institution that began August 10 along with three of my daughters who attend there, the charter school I homeschool through following suit, soccer practices already in full swing for the fall season & even the local neighborhood pool cutting back their hours to weekends & “after school” (even though its 100+ degrees outside today!). It has even dampened my September 1st birthday celebration that always fell during the last week of summer vacation with no worries, no school, no homework. (and I didn’t care about missing out on cupcakes in the classroom…I’d take a vacation time birthday over that anytime!) Yes, in my perfect world …it is and should still be – Summertime – with all its many wonderful diversions!

So, since I refuse to conform to this “new” definition of August…for us this marks the last week of summertime before school starts.  Which means it is a time to continue to enjoy the last lazy days of summer while at the same time beginning to form a plan and prepare for the upcoming school year.

Having personally been entrenched in the education world for over 24 years (11 years as a high school teacher & administrator and the past 13 years as a home school teacher)… I always see this time of year as a new beginning much like the time right before the new calendar year in January.  A fresh start to a brand new school year that I can make into whatever I want it to be.  The past school year, with all its failures, mistakes as well as successes,  is over and gone, only to be remembered through report cards, school records and the scrapbook or yearbook.

I always loved that fresh start feeling! I had an empty lesson planner and a school year calendar sitting blank in front of me and I could create whatever type of year I wanted. I could continue to fine tune & develop the things that were successful and make them even better. I could throw out things that were not working so well. I could try brand new, perhaps even “risky” ideas in hopes of inspiring my students in their quest of learning.  As I sat there with my yearly calendar, my goals & objectives and my weekly lesson plans…the sky was the limit! I could accomplish anything that new school year.

But one thing was always certain….I never started a new school year without a “plan”.  And none of us would accept our child’s teacher telling us that they had no specific plan for the year – no goals or objectives – that they were just going let things happen.  No, we would leave that classroom (in shock!) and head  straight to the office to demand a new teacher!  

YET…that is exactly what many of us do with our lives.  We just “let it happen” without any goals & objectives and with very little planning and then we wonder why it’s not working” for us? I want to challenge you today to begin to make a plan for your life this “school year”. Forget the past…and make this year a fresh new start.  And my first suggestion would be to…

…Begin with the end in mind!

Well, maybe not the very end (although that’s an excellent way to live….thinking about what you want your life to have looked like when you are on your death bed!) Let’s start with this –  Next August in 2011, what do you want your life to look like? 

  • What personal or family habits do you want to cultivate?
  • What new traditions do you want to establish or new ways to celebrate life?
  • What do you want to teach your children?
  • What do you want for your marriage and/or family relationships?
  • Do you have any new skills you want to acquire or talents you want to improve upon or use?
  • Where do you want to be spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally & financially?

After you write out your dreams, goals, objectives…..take each of them and make a list of what needs to happen to accomplish them. Then “calendar” those things into your year and write out your  daily, weekly & monthly “life lesson plan”. 

Here is an example of what that could look like –

Goal: To get caught up & stay current on my family photo albums

Ways to accomplish this:  weekly time set aside to journal, monthly workshops, yearly retreats

What to put on the life lesson plan & on the calendar: 

  • Weekly: Journaling time every Sunday afternoon for 1 hour
  • Monthly: First Friday of the month attend a 4 hour workshop to complete albums
  • Bi-Annually: Every October & February go on a scrapbooking weekend retreat with friends.

Here is a “heavier” example

Goal: The family to grow spiritually over the next year.

What needs to happen to accomplish this: church involvement, regular family prayer & devotions, scripture memory, cultivating personal time with God, becoming missions minded, developing meaningful spiritual traditions around the holidays etc…

What to put on the life lesson plan & on the calendar:

  • Daily or Regularly –  
  1. Provide a “quiet time” at home (even if it is just 15 minutes) for cultivating a relationship with God thru the word & personal prayer & meditation.
  2. Decide on best time for family prayer & devotions and make it happen. (even if you begin with once or twice a week rather than daily)
  3. Pick a verse to begin memorizing and post it around the house (bathroom mirrors, fridge, car dash board etc..) – practice together daily at a family meal or while driving to school.
  • Weekly 
  1. Calendar in weekly church attendance  – Sundays and or week night youth or prayer services
  2. Do a weekly family Bible study together
  • Monthly or Quarterly:
  1.  a mission trip or other local outreach opportunity (like working at a local soup kitchen or passing out blankets to the homeless)
  2. Research making holidays meaningful & implement one thing to each holiday this year. (for ideas & inspiration for holiday and other meaningful family traditions you can look at my blog here and here and here)
  3. Have a monthly time of family communion (read about this here)

And one more example – since the #1 post on this blog (11,500 views) has to do with improving your marriage (taking the love dare challenge) let me give you a sample there too.

Goal: To improve our marriage and have greater communication, deeper friendship and renew passion

What things need to be accomplished to meet this goal: setting aside time to talk and pray together, going on regular date nights, looking for ways to serve one another, loving each other in the way they need to be loved, reading, learning & growing in our marriage skills, romantic weekends away

What to put on the life lesson plan & calendar:

  • Daily –  
  1. Pray together each morning or evening while in bed (no distractions)
  2. Don’t leave each other each day without an “I love you” & goodbye kiss
  3. Greet one another upon returning home with an “I love you” &  hello kiss
  • Weekly 
  1. Have a “coffee & conversation” time each week…perhaps on Sunday night before a new week begins to discuss both the good and bad of life, whats on your plate for the upcoming week and any other issues needing to be discussed
  2. Do one thing each week to purposely fill the love tank of your spouse (you would need to read The Five Love Languages by Gary Smalley to really understand this…but basically you are choosing to love them they way they want to be loved…I think I will write another blog about this because I feel a plan brewing)
  • Monthly:
  1. Date Night…special time out alone…looking great…just like the pre marriage dating days!
  • Yearly
  1. Attend a marriage conference or read a book together to improve relationship (even if it is good!)
  2. Go away for a romantic weekend together (or longer if you can pull it off!)
  3. Celebrate your anniversary every year (which is when we take our romantic get-aways!) 

 So as your summer winds down & the new school year begins – stop and take the time to write out your dreams & goals for this year. Make a life lesson plan & then put that plan into action and on the calendar! (In my house our motto is: If it is on the calendar…it happens!) Don’t continue to just let life “happen”  but rather “Make it happen”.  You will reap great rewards for your efforts.

Here’s to August 2011 when as you are enjoying the “dog days of summer” basking in the sun by the pool, you’ll also enjoy looking back at your many accomplishments of the past year & basking in the glory of a year well lived.

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2 Comments

Filed under Goals & Dreams, Life Lessons, Marriage

2 responses to “A Lesson Plan for Life

    • Tiffany Trotter

      Hi Beth! I always enjoy your “motivational” blogs but have never commented. I couldn’t resist commenting on your “life plan” comment. Back in March 2010 I attended a personal development conference through my work (one of the many reasons why I LOVE my job!) and we worked with a consultant to develop a life plan. She mentioned that most people plan their vacations much more than they plan their lives. She said that if you develop a plan, write down your wants & desires for different areas in your life, then they will come to fruition. She was right! All 5 goals that I listed have come come to fruition prior to my goal date. Just yesterday we followed up with this same consultant and many of us had already met our goals. She encouraged us to set new goals. Always have life goals set and written down. I can’t begin to tell you how much this has helped me and changed my perspective on “planning” my life versus just letting it “happen.” Thank you for your great post today!

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