Friday, January 6, 2012

Backward Planning Your Life

As some of you may know, I was a secondary English teacher for a time. A short time. My degree is in English, but I went back to get my teaching certification a few years later.

One of the strategies we learned in my teaching program was called "backward planning." When you're planning lessons, you start at the end result and back into your lesson from there. For example, say I wanted my students to understand the concepts of metaphor and simile. That's my end goal. Then I think, "Well, what would best assess their knowledge of that concept?" So I create an assessment of some sort---a test, a project, etc. From there, I back up and say, "What would best prepare them for that assessment?" Then I decide on activities and homework that would teach the concept and prepare them for their assessment. It's a super logical way to approach teaching, although it does take some time to plan.

But it's also a good way to look at a life. What is the end goal for my life? Are there things I want to accomplish or a legacy I'd like to leave?

Then you back up. How will I assess that goal? What's a measurable way to say, "Yes, that goal has been reached?"

Then you back up further. What are the steps I need to take to reach that goal? How will I pass that assessment?

Then back up even further. What am I doing right now to follow those steps? What am I doing to aim myself toward that end goal?

It sounds like a weird way to approach a life, but it's a logical way. Things we do every day shape who we are and where we're going. We shape our children, we affect people around us. So we need to make sure that all of our time is being wisely invested in that end goal.

I need to work on that.

What about you? Do you think about the end goal of your life and truly aim for it each day?


  1. It does make sense, because honestly it helps you define your "why." Why are you doing what you are doing...or setting out to do? If you can't figure that out, through the steps and process you need to achieve your goals, then what good are the goals, or even going for them, in the first place?

  2. That's a really great point! It makes perfect sense for teaching, and definitely for life.

  3. First off, I just want to say, I've just found your blog and I am so glad. Your 'About' page pretty much describes me so I will be watching your blog like a hawk now (instead of the hoovering I should be doing).

    Anyway, I think I might try your backward planning idea. I haven't sat down to look at my life for a long while now but it's the start of a new year and God is on my case. It should help me to hear it from a fellow lazy person!


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