If You Fail to Plan, How Will It Happen?

My 11 year old daughter took the floor with all the poise of a seasoned professional. Focused and determined with grace and verve, she was ready to win. She had worked hard, all year long, and it was GO time. The only reason that she was about to step on the mats at all was because of a decision that she had made almost nine months earlier.

In July of last year, after she had earned and won third place in the Poomsae(forms) competition at the AAU Tae Kwon Do (TKD) National Championships in Fort Lauderdale, FL, she sat down with us to talk about her plans. She told us that she didn’t want to go to the Junior Olympics, as she wanted to switch styles of TKD. She wanted to compete at the World Championships in Poomsae when she turned twelve, and she needed to get a vertical side kick on both legs to have a shot at it. Note the picture to the right. She put that up on the wall of her training room when she started. Hmmm, that face looks awfully familiar.

It had been a long road to medal at a major championship, and now she wanted to start over. What could she be thinking? She had trained since she was four in the ITF style of TKD, so the change wasn’t going to be easy, and she had just achieved a major accomplishment. This change would take careful planning, practice, sacrifice, and victory was not assured. As her mom, I wasn’t convinced that this was the best course of action. We had been talking about changing for a couple of weeks, and while I was focused on the challenges that lay ahead, Sophia was focused on the glory that could be hers if she switched. 🙂

Have you ever had that happen to you? You have worked long and hard for a goal, and have had some success, only to decide that you needed to change and go in a new direction?

In the end, we decided to let her design her own path to greatness :), and as a result, changed gyms, approaches and training methods. Her father and I had learned, long ago, that the best way to achieve a big goal was to  reverse engineer it. That is, to “Begin with the end in mind.”

We researched what the best training methods were, and created a training program with her coach, on and off the mats, so that Sophia would peak when competition season started. Without a clear plan, intermediate benchmarks that allowed her to break down the big goal into smaller chunks, and consistently working her plan, she wouldn’t have been able to compete, nor as you can see from the picture, attain that elusive vertical side kick that is the hallmark of World Poomsae Champions.


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Let’s return to the competition. Sophia stood front and center, ready to perform, but something seemed off. That poise and confidence that was in her face a moment ago was replaced with confusion and doubt. Yet, the “Eye of the Jeffrey” came back quickly, and she performed a nearly flawless poomsae routine.

When the scores were tallied, she took second place! Nine months of intense training culminated in success! But Sophia didn’t view it that way. She had wanted to win, and felt that she was off her game despite recovering her focus, because she wasn’t told which form to perform ahead of time. She felt that little bit of confusion was the edge the other girl needed to win. Afterwards, it came to light that the rookie mistake was ours, because…

In all of our planning, it never occurred to us to plan for the competition protocol, itself. What would have happened if we had planned and prepared her for that? Darn rookies!

I took you on this journey to illustrate how an insurmountable big goal could be attained with planning, practice and execution.  Sophia isn’t special, even though we think she is. She has all the capability you and I possess to make our goals real, too. What she does have, that sometimes we don’t, is the belief that all things are possible with hard work, planning, and belief.

Her success formula, with the help of her mom, dad and coach was this:

  1. Reverse engineer the goal
  2. Break that goal into measurable benchmarks
  3. Work that plan consistently
  4. Modify it if necessary
  5. Celebrate hitting the benchmarks
  6. Enjoy the fact that you took a desire and made it real

That’s it! Easy peasy. So what big goal are you going after, and what is the first step you can take right now to make it happen? Do it! Dreams only come true when you take action!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Remember, you are so much more than who you think yourself to be





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