Flight Plan for Success

I recently watched a movie about Charles Lindbergh who, in 1927, was the first person to fly non-stop from New York to Paris, and it made me to think about how a pilot’s preparation for a long flight is similar to preparing for the return to school (or any endeavor). So fasten your seatbelts, and ensure your chairs are in an upright position as I share with you my version of a pre-flight checklist for a successful year:

Get clear on the destination. While you and your children may already agree on the school and grade for this coming year, do you also both agree on what “success” looks like? What criteria will you all use to determine if they are having a successful term or year? Will it be based on marks? Their level of engagement, involvement, or happiness? The quality or quantity of friendships? Get clear. Have a conversation and define specifics. Simply agreeing to have a “good year” leaves a lot open to interpretation.

Plot a course. A great benefit of getting clear on a destination (what success look like), is that you can then spend some to determine the best way(s) to arrive there. What strategies have worked in the past? What have not worked? To which actions do you want to commit? Are there any activities that should be limited or avoided? If you’re not sure, who could you ask?

Ensure your instruments are working. Pilots check and use many instruments to keep them on-course throughout their flights. What indicators will you and your children use to regularly check-in and ensure they’re still on-course? What daily, weekly, or monthly actions could you take? Waiting for report cards or a call from the school could be ill-advised.

Be prepared for all types of weather. While we hope every flight and school year will be smooth from start to finish, there is always a chance things could get bumpy. What precautions or strategies do you have in place? Who or what is part of your support team? What procedures should you or your children consider if they foresee turbulence in their future? How might you maintain on-going communication with the school or teachers this year? What information might be helpful to share with school staff?

Think positively. Regardless of past performances, it’s important for everyone to foster a positive attitude about the coming year. Starting with a kamikaze mindset (“I know I’m going to crash!”) won’t help anyone. Should this be the case, use this as a springboard to discuss new strategies and ways of supporting their learning this year.

Plan your celebrations. Just as people sometimes cheer and clap on landing, plan some ways to celebrate milestones along the journey this year. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—a hug & praise, a high five, a card, sharing/preparing a favourite meal, etc. So here is wishing you and your entire family a safe and enjoyable trip this year. Bon voyage!


Ready for your teen to experience greater happiness? Improved motivation? Self-confidence? Better results at school or home? Check out additional resources at www.YouthCoachGlobal.com, including our free Teen Success Audit. Let us help stop overwhelm and indifference from sabotaging your teen so they can be happy, motivated, and successful in school AND life!

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