How to Adopt the 5 Ps of Planning as a Military Spouse

by | Aug 26, 2020 | Blog

“My personal definition of prior proper planning means that I am preparing myself mentally, emotionally, and physically for the task at hand. “

“My personal definition of prior proper planning means that I am preparing myself mentally, emotionally, and physically for the task at hand. “

One of my husband’s favorite go-to quotes is, “Prior proper planning prevents poor performance.” I sometimes hear that statement in my sleep, especially if I am stressed or behind on a deadline. But what exactly does it mean to have the “5 P mindset?”  

My husband is a retired thirty-year Marine, who has yet to really retire mentally. Prior proper planning for him means that he has established a schedule and timeline for the task at hand. He has done all the appropriate research necessary to be fully informed on the topic and he has run all the potential known and unknown contingencies that may, or may not, occur. He has determined an end-state or outcome, which enables a course of action to be mapped out to reach the goal. Does that sound a little convoluted to you? 

Whether it is a school assignment, a project at work, a volunteer commitment, or preparing for a major family event, prior proper planning can prevent poor performance in the midst of the moment. But the 5 P mindset can look very different to each person. My personal definition of prior proper planning means that I am preparing myself mentally, emotionally, and physically for the task at hand. To me, a 5 P mindset means I am training daily to hit the mark. However, even as I prep and train, I also must recognize and accept that the mark for which I am aiming may be a target that shifts. I am preparing myself for the day at hand, but I am also preparing myself for the longer endgame of life. Such is the nature of military life.


Prior proper planning to prevent poor performance is not one size fits all. The planning will vary from person to person based on individual needs and personality. However, this mindset does mean you are intentional in creating and developing both an internal and external environment of success. This environment does not happen by accident or by sheer luck. You have to decide and determine what you need to be productive and positive.  

For me personally, that means I need to guard my sleep. Without the appropriate hours of rest, I am a bear! My family can attest to the fact that mom needs her sleep. My mood, my thinking, and my attitude are all impacted by my physical rest. Sleep is a simple tool that impacts my productivity in a major way. For my husband, daily exercise is a non-negotiable. He has to have his daily dose of endorphins to be a functional human being. Choosing not to exercise alters his attitude and mood for the day. Therefore, exercise is scheduled into his daily routine as a high priority. Exercise impacts his mindset, and his mindset impacts his productivity levels. My daughter is a personal trainer. Her non-negotiable is eating clean. She states emphatically that she notices a huge difference in her mood and mindset based on what she eats. If she has several days of “junk” eating she feels sluggish, moody and “off.” When she feels “off” physically, all that she does is touched and impacted. Eating clean has the ability to impact her sense of productivity.


So, what are some quick tips to increase productivity? First, take a moment and reflect on what has worked for you in the past. When did you achieve success and feel confident and peaceful doing so? What are some of the tools that helped get you there? Write down your thoughts and then pull from those moments. Make note of what worked and what didn’t work for you. Sometimes you learn from those moments of stress and failure, just as you learn from those moments of success.

Know yourself! Do you need rest, exercise, or a clean diet to feel more empowered and energized? Do you need quiet time in the morning, or an hour in the sun to charge your battery and inspire you? What works for YOU to increase clarity of thought and build motivation? Now, give yourself permission to implement those tools into daily life. It is not selfish to schedule things that make you feel stronger and more confident! This is quality self-care.

Lastly, as much as I loath to admit this in writing, plan ahead. If you have an upcoming challenge to be faced, a deadline, or major task adjustment on the horizon, plan for that event accordingly. Structure your schedule to accommodate the tools you need for success and then discipline yourself to implement those tools daily so that your tank is full prior to the moment of stress.

I always tell my children, “You will perform how you practice.” This is true for everyone. If you want to perform well in those moments of intense challenge, you must establish good practices for the events yet to come. You must train in advance for both the known and the unknown—it is a daily choice and intentional decision. Having said that, please don’t tell my husband he is right on this one—I will never live it down! 

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Jolynn Lee is a thirty-year Marine Corps spouse who is now the proud mother and mother-in-law to military servicemembers. She and her husband serve their community through the volunteer organization REBOOT Combat Recovery – Camp Lejeune, a twelve week course that offers hope and healing to those impacted by trauma. She is also the Community Team Lead for Planting Roots – Strength to Thrive in Military Life, an organization that supports military affiliated women world-wide. She and twenty other military spouse contributors released a book, Strong Women, Brave Faith. You can join Jolynn on her blog Starfish Talks, where she shares stories of hope, healing, and military life.  

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