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Back to the Drawing Board

First Example:
Susanne: Hey Peter! How is your new workout
plan going?
Peter: Not so great.
Susanne: What happened?  You seemed so excited about your New Year’s resolutions
last week, saying you were going to go to the gym four days a week.
Peter: I had dinner plans after work on
Tuesday and Wednesday, and then on Friday, I was so tired.  So it’s back
to the drawing board
on my resolutions.
Susanne: Well, two days isn’t too bad.  Can you plan to work out on the weekends?
Peter:  I was hoping to have my weekends free, but I
think I might plan one weekend day each week. 
Then I can plan to go to the gym two days during the work week, making it three days a week.

Susanne: That sounds pretty good to me.         

Meaning: When someone says “back to the drawing board,” it means that a previously
established plan isn’t working and that it is time to re-plan.  In the above example, Peter’s New Year’s resolution
doesn’t work with his schedule, so he needs to re-think his resolution and come
up with something that is actually possible.  Sometimes “back to the drawing
board” will be used in a complete sentence, such as in the example above;
however, the idiom will sometimes be used on its own, as in the following

Lisa: My job interview went horribly!
Jason: What happened?! I thought you said you were perfect for that
Lisa: I thought I was, but then I got to
the interview, and the interviewer started asking me questions about things I didn’t
understand. I was so confused by his questions, I finally just told him that I
misunderstood the job qualifications and apologized for wasting his time.
Jason: I’m sorry to hear that.  What are you going to do next?
Lisa: Back to the old drawing board, I guess. I thought this job was so
perfect, I didn’t apply anywhere else.
Jason:  Well, good luck in the new job search!

Meaning: This time, Lisa uses the expression “back to the
drawing board” without a subject and verb in answer to Jason asking
“What are you going to do next?” suggesting that she is starting a new job search.  Also notice that she adds the word
“old,” which is common with this expression.  The meaning does not change when you add the
word “old.”

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