Commit to a Plan

Hopefully last week’s post got you thinking of more personal goals that will feed your heart. This week we will explore how to turn those goals into a plan.

Step 1 – Sacrifice

Before we begin to make a plan we need to be honest about how much work we will be willing and able to commit. If you have fitness goals that will require you to never have another cookie again, you are likely to fail or succeed and be miserable. Remember, we are working on goals that feed our hearts and make us happy. I am not saying don’t be ambitious. I am saying work on goals that bring you closer to what you need.

Look over your goal, and write down some things that you will need to give up to achieve them. If you have to put in the time, decide where that time will come from, sleep, leisure, work, etc. If you have to put in mental effort, decide how you are going to psych yourself up, watch a rocky movie, make a playlist and sing along as loud as you can etc. 

It is a great thing to know what you are working towards, but in a journey like this you will not be able to carry everything into this new life we are building. Some of these things you will be glad to leave behind, just be prepared for the things that will be hard to let go.

Step 2 – A new day

You know where you are going and what you are leaving behind. But everything in the middle is not clear. To pursue your goals you will need to live everyday differently. 

“You are what you do everyday not what you plan to do on the weekend”

Right now we only leave two days a week (if that) to fit in anything we want to do. And it is not enough. I make it to the weekend and I am so exhausted from the week that I still can’t fit in anything for me. Yet, somehow I manage to muster up enough effort to show up for friends and family when they need it. Now it’s time to show up for yourself. 

Start with everyday. Why do you think you are able to get up and go to work 5 days a week and hate it? Because you were trained that way. 5 days a week since kindergarten or before, we were all trained to follow a routine, so I know you can do it. It does not have to be a lot. “Learn to rest, not to quit” is awesome advice but for me, I sit down for a second, my momentum is gone and it takes weeks to get back up. A body at rest and all. Better advice is to pace yourself.

Create a routine you can do everyday. The whole point of this is to live the dream… everyday. So you have to do it everyday.

Step 3 – Small wins

What is the best part of any new journey? The results! When you lose that weight or finish that book or buy that house, it is going to be the best feeling of your life. You know what else? You don’t have to wait until the end to get results. You can see change immediately. 

The first time you say no to fast food and mean it, the first day you sit down to write and inspiration strikes, or the first time you put money in your savings and don’t spend it. Imagine that! And imagine, some people let these moments pass them by without so much as a pat on the back. How sad…

That will not be you. I want you to map out smaller targets on the way to your main goal and how you are going to celebrate when you hit those targets. 

Assuming progress is linear (it’s not but who got time for math) you can set targets at specific points in your timeline. If you want to be at 50 push ups in a year at 0 now. You need to be at 25 in 6months, 13 in 3 months, 4 in one month. That is adding one push up every week. If 10000 hours makes an expert that’s about 3 hours a day for 10 years. And if you want to rate your overall life happiness at 9 out of 10 by the end of the year, can you add 1 out of 10 every month? Try a mood tracker to help you track if what you are doing is working for you. I use Remente: Self Care, Wellbeing is a free app with in-app purchases that will help you track your happiness.

Can you spend 2 hours a day not getting better but doing things you enjoy, feeding your heart? How happy would you be in a year? Is being a little happier worth it?  Even if you know you cannot be who you want to be, because the world (gestures to everything) join a drama club where for two hours twice a week you can. No money? Start a free drama club. Don’t know how? Neither do I and I’m doing it. If you allow others to be beginners the world might become more accepting. Where do you want to be in 3 months?

The most important part of tracking your progress is to know when to celebrate. Romanticize this new life. Take yourself to dinner, get cute, or not, whatever makes you enjoy this life the most. Put as much thought into this as you did with your goals and making this plan. Recognizing your small wins and planning small celebrations for yourself will motivate you to keep going. The journey is just as important as the destination.

Step 4 – Contingency plan

We have planned for wins but what happens when we don’t quite make our targets?As I mentioned, progress is not linear so be kind to yourself. The most important thing is that you keep going. Even if you think this isn’t helping, you can change course and still keep moving. The long road is better than staying where you are. Left is better than backwards. 

Are you checking your boxes (at this point just to do)? Where are you failing and excelling? It may seem counterintuitive but it may help to adjust the parts of your plan that are going well. If you are reading every morning without fail but not managing to try a new recipe like you planned, it could be the timing. Is it that writing is easier or more enjoyable to cooking or is it that the mornings are a better time for you? You can always go back to your original routine.

If your plan turned out to not be perfect (most likely not, first time and all) you can adjust. Whenever I think I am making a mistake and lose motivation, I remember I can always begin again. That is the key to how I live my life. You can always begin again. 

Step 5 – Believe

Look back at your plan.

  1. Sacrifice – Picture you achieving your goals and think of everything you left behind. Are you happy?
  2. A new day – Imagine a day in the life of the new you. Start living it everyday. 
  3. Small wins – Make a timeline to stay on track and celebrate every win.
  4. Contingency plan – Embrace that you are not perfect and keep going anyway.

Look at everything you want and the plan you made to get there. Do you believe it? It may be the hardest thing in the world to stay motivated to stick to your plan if you don’t believe it will get you where you’re going. You can have it all, if you believe in your plan.

Next week I will share with you how it’s been trying to follow my own advice for the first 2 weeks of the New Year!