A Man, a Can and a Plan

By Brian Clark, MA
Online Faculty, College of Education   

Campbell's cream of chicken soup

Summertime is quickly coming to a close, though for many, it feels like summer just began.

At this point, you may be thinking back to that “to-do” or “self-improvement” list that you made at the beginning of summer—a sort of summer bucket list. You felt great about the first item that you checked off the list and started wholeheartedly on the second item only to be distracted by a new season of House of Cards on Netflix.

Now, it is two months later (still only having one and a half items checked off the list) and you are staring at a new list: the class schedule for the fall semester.

Along with that class list comes a whole new set of lists. As a pun, I could list the lists… but I’ll save the regurgitations for another blog!

So, why all these lists? What do we hope to accomplish with a list when our track record for lists is clearly not a winning formula? Simply stating goals on a list may be effective for the grocery store, but a new college semester will undoubtedly require a slightly higher level of thinking than choosing between the seven different types of apples in the produce section.

“The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan.” – Dave Ramsey

When looking at a list, it is really nothing more than a hope or a vision. We need a little more depth to that list to really see our vision come into focus.

On the front of a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup, there is a vision of a beautiful creamy chicken with a rice and broccoli plate that would be the envy of any home cook. On the back of that can, is a plan for how to accomplish that! A list of ingredients (with a clear goal of selling more Campbell’s products) and a plan for how those ingredients will go together.

The plan found on the back of this soup can really gives us some great insight into how we can create our own plans. First of all, this plan is quick—especially when combined with minute rice!

When looking at your list, plan to get the “quick” items out of the way first.

Second, the plan has steps, or priorities. You don’t want to make the rice, then decide to thaw the chicken for the next four hours! Identify what items on the list must be done today (oftentimes this can coincide with the quick part), what must be done tomorrow and what can wait until a later time.

Using this system, you may even see something fall off your list entirely, as it may have been unnecessary from the start—good thing you didn’t waste your time on that!

Lists are good. Plans are good. But lists and plans are best together. See for yourself on a can of soup!

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More about Brian:

Brian Clark is a full-time online faculty member in the College of Education as part of the teacher preparation program with Grand Canyon University. Prior to working as a faculty member, Brian worked as an academic counselor for GCU while earning his master’s degree in educational leadership. Before his career at GCU, Brian spent five years as a high school music teacher in the Phoenix area; he still enjoys participating in music education endeavors.

Along with regular teaching duties at GCU, Brian has served as a content lead for the educational technology and university success courses.  He has also participated in the university’s program standards evaluation committee, which entails reviewing current degree programs and making recommendations for new degree offerings.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.