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Tonja Evetts Weimer
We usually plan for everything else in life. We have financial plans, health plans, educational plans, and even travel plans. But not too many people have a focused dating plan. Why? Most of us don't think we need it. We usually wait to see what comes our way and then react. If we don't like what we see, we continue to wait and watch. Somehow, we don't think we should have to do any work for a date. We think it should just "happen."

One of my clients, Terry, had been on a career track all his life. His parents sent him to the best schools, and his summers were planned with camp, travel, and sports. His after-school programs were strictly monitored, with activities planned to further his growth and career.

Terry has a good job and some friends he met in high school and college, and he would like to date more. Does he have a plan? No. He goes out every weekend to the same places, barely looks up from his beer to see who is there, and talks about how there isn't anyone to meet in this town.

Why doesn't Terry have a plan? He has one for everything else in his life. Isn't meeting someone to date and possibly have a relationship with just as important?

When Terry understood that he had to do some work to meet people, we looked at where he would start. He first had to get clear about what kinds of people he wanted to date. If you're like Terry, here is a place for you to begin. Ask yourself the following questions and pay attention to your answers. They could change your life.

1. What am I looking for?

Don't rush this question. Sit down and start to write out the qualities that are important to you. Make an actual wish list on paper. Many people choose dates based on how the person looks and whether he or she shares some similar interests.

Though it is true that chemistry is important, there is much more that needs to be considered. Ultimately, you're looking to see if the other person has the values you can't live without.

2. What am I willing to do to get what I want?

You can say you want something, but how committed are you to it? What action are you willing to take to make it happen? Have you worked hard to have the career you have today? Realize that it might take that same kind of commitment to alter your current habits of socializing if you want to meet new people.

3. What is the most important thing I could do to create results?

Are you willing to step out of familiar (but ineffective) behaviors and try something new? Are you ready to take some risks, like asking people to fix you up? Can you go to new places and reach out to people? A different Take and different Actions are now required to get a different Outcome.

4. How can I use a recent experience to avoid mistakes in the future?

Most of us are doomed to repeat the same errors over and over unless we stop and look at our patterns of behavior. This is uncomfortable. Take a look at your failed dating experiences and ask yourself what your Take was then and how you acted it out. How can you use the experience gained from your breakup for more dating and relationship wisdom?

5. How can I face the prospect of dating with a positive attitude?

If we take responsibility for the challenges in our lives and don't blame others for them, we can spend our energy looking for solutions. With this attitude, you can also take responsibility for finding the kinds of dates you want. You can do this now because you understand how the TAO [Take, Actions, Outcome] can work for you.

When you spend some time answering these questions, you'll be ready to think about a plan.

Tonja Evetts Weimer

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