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First Year Experience Seminar Online Textbook

This is the main textbook for FYE Seminar to be used beginning Summer 2017

2.1.1 How Strong Are Your Long Term Planning Skills?

Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.”  Denis Waitley 

What are your wildest dreams? 

2.1.2 How Do I Become a Skilled Long Term Planner?

Long-term planning requires a special set of tools to add to our time management toolbox. Long term planning is like looking into the lens of a camera.  We look through a wide-lens and see an entire mountain range, with snow-covered peaks that are literally fifty or a hundred miles away.  Peering through a portrait lens we see only a portion of the mountain range but can clearly identify the people in our hiking party and establish the distance from the trail head to the top of the mountain.  Finally, the zoom lens depicts each step we take on our path, noting the smallest wildflower nestled into the root of a tree on the hiking trail and calling attention to obstacles that might block the path to the top of the mountain. 

   Attaining a desired life-time goal requires awareness of the big goal to see the full scope of our desire and to decide whether or not it is achievable, but if we don’t have an action plan we will likely not achieve our mission.  Once we know what we want from life, a map is required to move us from our present position to the desired destination in the far future. A good hiker never leaves home without a detailed trail map. Maps are the only way we will ever achieve the toughest goals we set for ourselves in life.  For instance, if a TCC student named Sylvia wants to travel to France to study abroad for one semester, her goal will not happen without a plan of action, especially since steps for world travel must be completed months before the actual departure date. Maps break broad pieces of the life-time goal into manageable units that may require several weeks or months to complete.  Sylvia will need to work with the college at least 6 – 12 months prior to the trip, planning travel arrangements, room accommodations, tours, and the specialized topics to be covered during the trip, such as French and impressionism for her art major.  Mapping the big picture will be done with the aid of many school resource people, but Sylvia will be accountable for finishing the projects, not the staff. 

   Next, Sylvia will need to complete single tasks on a daily basis and monitor her progress.  Performing single steps such as applying for a passport and visa, having a transcript sent to the visiting school, and seeing a doctor for required vaccinations to travel abroad are just a few of the items she will need to do. 

   Weekly and daily monitoring of her to-do list is critical; if Sylvia misses a task, she may not be able to go on her trip.  For instance, a U.S. citizen cannot leave and re-enter the country without a passport.  Creating a routine to plan her weekly chores and check them from the list when completed is a monitoring-system that will help Sylvia attain her long-term goal.  Achieving life-time goals requires managing up to a thousand single, short-term goals, and before Sylvia reaches Italy.  She will complete them and attain her goal, or she will be sitting at home while her friends make the trip to Italy. Which student do you want to be? 

To understand the planning process, think of goals in these terms:



  • Long Term Goals: A year or up to a decade may be required to complete a long term goal. These goals are the big picture of our futures, the desires we will fulfill to live a rich and rewarding life.
    •   Example: Complete an Associate of Liberal Arts with a 2.8 grade point average by December of 2015.  (Three years in the future).


  • Intermediate Goals: Breaking the big picture into manageable segments that can be handled in a month or multiple months helps motivate us by keeping us focused on an outcome, or prize, that is only a few months ahead rather than years in the distant future.
    • Example: Complete twelve hours with a 2.6 grade point average by the end of this semester. 


  • Short Term Goals: Single tasks that we complete during a week to insure that we actually do the work to achieve the intermediate goal. The short term goal may be a task we do one time, or it may be the same task that we repeat three or four times on various days of the week.
    • Example of a one-time goal: Complete my study guide for the Strategies exam by Friday night this week.
    • Example of a repeating goal: Take 2 – 4 pages of notes in every class this week.  


2.1.3 How Do I Write Goals that Will Work?

The human brain is a marvelous invention that works toward our desires when we correctly program it. However, the brain functions best with a clear and measurable task to perform.  Any goal, whether long-term or short-term, necessitates three critical criteria: to be single item, to be measurable, to have an estimated completion date.

   Keeping a goal clearly defined and measurable helps both the conscious and subconscious mind work toward that goal.  If we group similar items together, such as completing a degree in nursing and finding a job as a nurse in a good hospital that pays at least $38,000 per year, we’ve sent the mind competing messages, and we haven’t prioritized the goals or focused on one destination. Our subconscious will have a hard time helping us formulate a working map for our project because the outcome isn’t one thing—it’s three.  Also, completing a long-term goal is a time for celebration, but when do we celebrate the end of this goal: When we graduate? When we get a job six months after graduation? When we earn $38,000 a year after we started our new job? Having separate goals allows the mind to support us in working toward a focused destination while giving us needed feedback to build self-esteem each time we reach a mile-marker in our lives.

   We also need a goal for various areas of our lives to maintain balance and health. Here are six categories that demonstrate a balance in long-term goals.


                     LONG-TERM GOALS: LIFETIME GOALS



This category may include all your work goals, but be sure to keep timing in mind when you write them.  For now a goal may be to work

·         Work  20 hours per week in TCC’s work study program (preferably in the Nursing Division) for two years;

·         Intern for 15 hours per week in a hospital during junior and senior years in college

·         Work as an RN in a hospital by (estimated date).


This category will break down into degrees:

·         I will earn an Associate of Science degree at TCC with a GPA of 3.8 or better by (estimated completion date). 

·         I will earn a Bachelor of Nursing degree with a 3.6 or better by (estimated completion date). 


Financial Stability

This category will focus on finances, noting goals for remaining stable while improving your financial standing over the years.

·         Use school loans only for emergencies in the next four years

·         Maintain a savings account for emergencies

·         Design and monitor an annual budget

·         Earn $900 monthly while in college

·         Earn $36,000 during my first year as a nurse


Health and Leisure

Health is twofold for most people, maintaining a target weight through exercise and through nutrition. These are separate goals:

·         Maintain (or hit) a target weight of ___ for the year.

·         Create and complete an exercise plan for the semester

·         Design a nutrition plan to eat balanced meals 80% of the time

Leisure includes ways to relax and rest, both important to a balanced life, especially for a college student.

·         Reward myself at the end of the semester with a trip to the Ozarks for one week

·         Travel to Europe by ___ (five years from now).


Social and Family Life

Social and family connections are an essential component to happiness and balance in life. Creating semester and lifetime goals helps us maintain balance.

·         I will not marry until I finish school (approximately four years from now).

·         I will spend portions of every weekend with my parents and siblings this semester.

·         I will limit my social time with friends as rewards for accomplishing nightly/weekly study goals this semester.


Too often we forget to take time to replenish the systems in our bodies that keep us happy, focused, and feeling good about ourselves. Be sure to balance social activities with ones that replenish and sustain our mental and emotional health.

·         I will volunteer in the community every month for the next 10 years.

·         I will schedule either a yoga or meditation class every semester that I am in college.

·         I will participate in at least one weekly/monthly activity in my church each year.


2.1.4 How Do I Analyze My Goals?

When you are finished writing your goals, analyze them to be sure each has the three criteria required and that the goals align with your skills, interests, and values.

   Analysis requires asking hard and sometimes complex questions and searching for accurate and in-depth answers to those questions.  We want to build a balanced and fulfilling life, so questions must be examined before we commit to this set of goals.

  • Do I have the skills and abilities needed to achieve these goals, and if I don’t possess the skill now, can I attain it with hard work and an action plan?
  • Does my family situation allow me to pursue these goals without causing harm or distress to the ones I love?
  • Do I know the daily tasks that people perform in the career I’ve chosen, and do I enjoy the tasks? Which ones will be easy to do, and which ones will seem challenging? Am I up to this challenge?
  • Have I created a realistic timeframe in which I can achieve the goal?
  • Will working in this profession align with my values in life?
  • Am I willing to commit to the time, planning, and effort it will take to achieve these life-time goals?
  • Are my goals written in positive language so that working on them encourages optimism rather than anxiety?


Guided Practice in Analysis


   The first step of analysis is to check for meeting criteria: single item that is measurable with an estimated completion date.  Examine each goal to be sure it is measurable.  For instance, if our TCC student Sylvia wants to hit a target weight of 130 pounds, she must be sure the goal is measurable and that it is achievable in the amount of time she has allowed for the goal. Which is the best long-term goal (or goals) based on her current weight of 192 pounds.

A.    I will lose weight by the end of the semester (four months)

B.     I will eat healthy and exercise every week until I weigh 140 pounds

C.     I will lose 20 pounds a month every month for the next 4 months.

D.    I will hit a target weight of 130 pounds by (eight months from now).

   The goal that meets all the criteria and has a positive answer to all the questions in our analysis is the final goal, D.  No one wants to lose weight, so the language isn’t conducive to modifying behavior, especially when it comes to a difficult goal such as reaching a desirable weight. Therefore, all the goals containing the word “lose” are weak goals. Everyone likes to hit the mark or the target, so wording the goal as a challenge to succeed creates a positive goal.  However, the goal that  notes to “eat healthy and exercise every week” is a dual goal, one requiring exercise and good nutrition—two distinct actions.  Sylvia might do well exercising but because she hasn’t modified her diet, she doesn’t lose weight and she feels discouraged.  Also, the goal has no accountability since there is no estimated date for the goal to be completed. 

   The final goal allows eight months to reach a target weight of 130 pounds, which means a realistic weight loss of about 5-8 pounds a month.  The goal meets all the criteria, and can now be broken into the action map for achieving the long-term goal.  Breaking the goal into intermediate and short term goals is the next step in long-term planning.  Before moving on to the next step, take time now to use the analysis questions and revise your own goals.

2.1.5 How Do I Create An Action Plan for a Long-Term Goal?

To create a map to work toward a goal’s destination, we divide the goal into workable units. The intermediate goals come first, and these are just a portion of the larger goal.  If Sylvia wants to work on her long-term weight goal, she realizes the need to work on two areas of her life: calorie input and output.  Here is her plan for the four months of the semester:


Intermediate Goals

  • I will design and complete a weekly exercise program (with the help of the physical specialist in TCC’s free gym) this semester.
  • I will schedule daily meals for the semester that focus on nutritious foods and calorie intake recommended on the nutrition plan I found on the Internet.
  • I will record my health plan daily and review my health plan at the end of each week for an entire semester.


   Notice that Sylvia’s goals address distinct patterns in her behavior but all three are required if she is to meet her weight goal within eight months. Her goals for months 4 – 8 will likely be a repeat of her first four month goals, but she may find she needs to rewrite or rework them. 


   Hard work, dedication, and attention to detail are essential components for any positive change to occur in our lives. The brain is used to traveling a comfortable path up the daily mountain of our lives, and it doesn’t like to wander from its routine; therefore, we have to write single steps to create a new path, and then we have to walk it, remembering that these little steps contain all the criteria of the big steps: a single task that is measurable with an estimated completion date.


      Short Term Goals

  • I will go to the gym on Tuesday and work with the specialist to create a weekly exercise plan.
  • I will do the pre-test in the gym on Wednesday.
  • I will download the recommended nutrition plan today.


Now that the exercise and nutrition plans are written, Sylvia adds more goals for the next day.

  • I will walk one-half mile two times by Friday night.
  • I will do weight workout on Tuesday and Thursday for 20 minutes in the gym after class.
  • I will eat the oatmeal on the plan with 1 cup of coffee for breakfast every day this week.
  • I will pack my salad for lunch every day this week.
  • I will eat the evening meal on my planner by 7 p.m. every night.
  • If I have to snack, I will eat 1 oz. of nuts or a banana two times per day this week.
  • I will record the results and review on Friday.
  • Weigh in on Friday night and record progress.

Reward: If I achieve my weekly goal 5 out of 7 days this week, I will go to the movies with Kendra on Friday night and have butter-free popcorn!


   Notice that Sylvia thoroughly covered the tasks needed to reach her long-term weight target, holding herself accountable and rewarding herself if she completes about 85% of her weekly goals. When beginning a new action plan, we want to be accountable and yet allow for human distractions and lack of perseverance.  Sylvia may be so busy in school that she can walk only one time and do two of the weight workouts, and she may slip on her diet and drink a soda and have a bag of chips one day.  She builds these kinds of human-ness into her plan, knowing that change takes adjustment in both mental and physical realms. She holds herself accountable and yet rewards her weekly successes.

2.1.6 Exercise: Reaching Long Term Goals

Please follow the link to view the document containing the exercise.   You will need Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office to view the document.  Adobe Reader can be downloaded at: .  You can download Microsoft Office through Blackboard: follow instructions on the “Student Resources” tab.

Read all instructions for the exercise thoroughly. 

2.1.7 What If My Plan Doesn't Work?

Long term planning requires using processes of monitoring and modifying the plan.  If we try something new and it doesn’t work, expecting results to improve without changing anything about the plan or the action we take toward accomplishing the plan is unrealistic and unproductive. Analyze the following example to see the processes of monitor and modify in action.


   Every year Thomas writes New Year’s resolutions, and by February he hasn’t kept a single one of them.  He’s given up trying to plan his life because goals just don’t work.  We can empathize with Thomas, and we’ve probably had the same experience, but giving up is not the answer to this dilemma.  Instead, consider looking at the barriers or obstacles that get in the way of your plans.  By analyzing the reasons for a plan’s failure and addressing those specific issues, we can safeguard our success.


Here is Thomas’s analysis of the reasons for his failure.

   1. List a goal that is important to you and that you are currently developing: 

I want to do well in school, but last semester I scheduled classes from 8:30 – 1:00 on four days, but I didn’t do well because I missed classes so much. I have to do better this semester or I’m out of school for good!


   2. What barrier kept you from achieving this goal? 

I overslept every Monday and missed my first class, and then on Wednesdays I didn’t want to go because I didn’t have my homework done. On Thursdays I work at 2:00, so I skipped my 11:30 class sometime, well—often, to eat and fool around with my friends at school before work.


   3. How can you overcome the barrier or obstacle? 

I shouldn’t take an 8:30 class on Mondays since I work on Sundays until 11 p.m. I could take afternoon classes, and I’m always awake by 10 in the morning, so I’d make classes if they were from 10 – 2:30.  That schedule works with my job, too.  And when I do miss class, I need to email the instructor and ask her what is due the next class period and then do the homework right away before I forget about it. Since I work at 2:00 on Thursdays, I’m going to take one Friday morning class from 9 12. That way I won’t skip class to eat before work. The other thing I need to do is to just suck it up and face it when I don’t have my homework done.  It’s better to go to class without it than to get so far behind.  Last semester I had to drop two classes, and I can’t do that this semester.  I have to make myself go to class.


   Thomas reflected on the plan he designed for his semester at college and found valid reasons for the plan not working.  If Thomas registers for his next semester and sets a schedule similar to his first semester, he will likely continue to experience the same problems and receive poor results.  If, however, Thomas uses the solutions to the barriers he discovered by reflecting on the obstacles to his success, he will likely have a much better experience and achieve his goals.


2.1.8 Integrating Long Term Goals into Your Day Planner

Often students believe that creating a long-term plan and keeping it in mind is all the work required to experience success in life. Research indicates that unless we take conscious action and achieve the long-term plan through short-term planning that we construct, monitor, and modify, we are likely to fail at achieving our goals, especially the difficult ones.

EXERCISE: Journaling

Take a moment during the next week to reflect and write on your true feelings about these questions:

·         How important is completing college to me?

·         What benefits am I experiencing from college right now?

·         What are the long-term benefits I will experience once I graduate from college?

·         How can I make college more relevant in my life right now?

Repeat this process of reflection using other major goals in your life as the focus.

            To build a daily planner, use the short term goals as daily steps toward the larger goal.  Always be sure to include a notation on the day the goal is due, as well as a notation on the day the work must actually be done.  For instance, Sylvia’s goals to exercise and eat regular meals might look like this:






8 – 8:30

Walk 20 minutes


Breakfast: oatmeal and coffee


Lunch: Salad


Dinner: chicken and vegetables no starches.





8 – 8:30

Weight workout 20 minutes


Breakfast: oatmeal and coffee


Lunch: Salad


Dinner: Fish and vegetables, one starch.


8 – 8:30

Walk 20 minutes



Breakfast: oatmeal and coffee


Lunch: Salad


Dinner: Roast and vegetables no starch


8 – 8:30

Weight workout 20 minutes


 Breakfast: oatmeal and coffee


Lunch: Salad


Dinner: Fish and vegetables, one starch


Breakfast: oatmeal and coffee


Lunch: Salad


Dinner: chicken and vegetables


Walk 2-3 times and do weights 2 times by Friday.


Eat 3 planned meals each day

And record my results on Friday



Keeping a weekly schedule and monitoring it daily will help Sylvia reach her long-term health goal.  Long-term and short-term planning must be structured together for the best results.

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