Tutor Dr. P. Teaches How to Create an Action Plan for Your 2019 Goals

“Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe and upon which we must vigorously act.  There is no other route to success.”

Great advice, right?  Who do you think gave it?  Legendary coach Vince Lombardi?  Media mogul Oprah Winfrey?  Master tutor Dominique Padurano?  Nope, nope, and definitely nope.  I love this quote not only for its sentiment, but also because it was written by Pablo Picasso.  A visionary, certainly, but one whose genius we don’t normally associate with “plan(ning).”  His Cubist canvases instead conjure up fantasies about the creative genius, achieving “success” on the fly.  Yet, Picasso’s words suggest that even the most nonconformist among us need to develop an action plan to realize our goals.

Photo source: artsy.net

Photo source: artsy.net

Write Three Actions Under Each Goal

Each semester, this quote adorns the inside cover of the syllabus at the college where I teach part-time.  I also invite the parents and students to whom I give workshopsor tutor privately to discuss its meaning.  Then, they write down the goals they would like to achieve for the semester or school year.  Finally, students brainstorm three actions they decide to take to make those goals a reality.

Last week, I discussed the importance of writing S-M-A-R-T goals down in order to achieve them.  Just as the goals themselves should be “Specific,” so too should the “Action[s]” your teen comes up with to achieve those goals.  For example, last week we examined the goal of a student who wanted to raise her algebra grade.  I pointed out that writing down that she wanted to increase her quarterly average by ten points was “Specific,” “Measurable,” “Realistic,” and “Timely.” 


The More Concrete the Action, the Better

To make the goal “Actionable,” as well, this girl’s plan should include concrete steps she’ll take toward that goal.  Rather than writing, “I’ll go to the teacher’s extra help,” she should resolve in the present tense underneath her goal, “I attend Mrs. Ruiz’s extra help session every Tuesday morning at 7:30am.”  She might also add, “I get help from a peer tutor every Wednesday at 3:15pm.” Writing specific actions in the present tense (rather than in the future) cues our subconscious into taking those actions in reality.

Just as the goals themselves should be measured, so too should the actions.  Check in with your teen daily or weekly to inquire whether he took the steps in the action plan that he created.  If he responds that there was nothing to do in the action plan for an entire week, help him revise that plan.  If you’re unable to do either and need the help of a tutor, feel free to contact me for help.  


Three’s the Magic Number

Strong action plans contain at least three actions per week, if not more.  For example, that student who hopes to increase her algebra grade by 10 points might add, “Do extra algebra problems every day for 15 minutes.”  The time spent doesn’t need to be crushing, but some time needs to be spent every day or every other day on working toward the goal for it to become a reality.

This issue marks the middle of my January series on goal setting. Drop me a line to let me know how the process is going for you and your teen.  And if you have any questions, feel free to send them prior to the January 31 Facebook Live Q&A at 7pm, when I’ll be taking all of your questions about goal-setting for teens – and adults! If you’d like to participate but have a different question related to education that a tutor or teacher could answer, send that beforehand, too!


‘Til next week, TAKE ACTION!

Dr. P.