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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Backcasting method can relieve stresscomment (0)

August 4, 2011

By Jean Roberson


Are you familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? It is a personality test that identifies a person as introverted or extroverted, a thinker or a feeler, among other characteristics.

One of the measurements touches on whether you are a planner or a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of person.
I consistently score high on the “fly by the seat of your pants” section.

My mother, however, scored outrageously high as a planner, and she was definitely a planner. Even though I am not naturally a planner, there is one skill I learned from her years ago that has served me well.

A couple of times a year, we would have my father’s staff over for holiday dinners and my mother would cook.

She would call me into the kitchen to go over the menu. Then she would take out a piece of paper and a calendar.

“This is what we are having for the dinner. If the dinner is on the 15th, then what do we need to have done by the 14th?” she would ask. And so it would begin.

She would work backward and write down what had to be accomplished when.

When we were finished, we would have a list of tasks to accomplish each day leading up to the event, starting with grocery shopping and ending with when to put what in the oven.

She would remind me that there is always enough stress the day of an event, so you do not want to be running around finishing things on that day.

Years later, I learned that process is actually called backcasting and it has been invaluable.

I know of one company working with new parents that uses backcasting in developing a method of discipline.

It asks the parents to identify the characteristics they hope their child will have when he or she is 13.

Then they work backward, asking what has to happen at each age to help the child develop those traits.

So try it. What event or project do you have coming up? When is it? What does the end result look like? Now working backward, what has to be finished when? What needs to happen to accomplish those tasks?

Remember there is always enough stress with events and projects that you don’t want to spend that day running around finishing things.

A Takeaway Value …
Backcasting is a valuable method for planning, even for us nonplanners!

EDITOR’S NOTE — Jean Roberson, MSW, LCSW, is a ministry consultant for national Woman’s Missionary Union. She serves as team leader for the adult team and director of Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps and International Initiatives.

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