“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
I've written before about the importance of setting goals, but what happens once the goals are set? Let's say your goal is “lose 10 lbs.” Great! Now what?
Now you need to plan out how you are going to achieve that goal. I'm going to use the 10lbs as an ongoing example, but it is important to mention that no matter what goal you have in mind, planning is an important step.
When you set a goal, ideally you are setting one that is reasonable and specific (ie lose 10lbs before the cruise in February). That makes it more manageable, but it can still seem a bit too big. This is because you are looking at a desired result, rather than actions you can take. You can't DO losing 10lbs, but you can do things to help you achieve that goal. Again, be specific, and write it down. An example for this goal would be; Buy a new pair of athletic shoes, make an appointment with my doctor to get cleared for physical activity, check out the rates at the local gym, download (and start using) a food-tracking app, and call Real Trainers to set up a consultation. This list could be completed within an hour or so, but will feel like you are actually taking action (because you are!). Follow this up with a plan of what type of training you want to do, how often you want to do it, and what kind of changes you want to make to your diet, and you are well on your way. The plan is in place, all you have to do is carry it out.
A specific plan will also allow you to keep track of your progress. Without one, you may get frustrated when you don't see results, or be unable to replicate it later on if you do.
I mentioned shoes, and you may have thought, “do I really need to buy shoes? What's wrong with my old ones?” I put that there for a couple of reasons. First, something as simple as picking up a new pair of shoes or workout shirt can inspire you to use your new gear. You've rewarded yourself for deciding to do something good, and you have a built-in guilt mechanism in case you have trouble getting motivated; “I spent all that money on shoes, I HAVE to go to the gym.” I'm kidding a little bit, because guilt isn't always the best motivation and this might not work for you, but then again it might. Second, the planning stage is where we find a lot of our excuses; “I can't work out, my shoes are terrible, I don't have time to work out, and counting calories? Ew.” Recognise these as excuses and address them with reasonable responses; Shoes go on sale all the time, buy new ones. If you have time to watch TV you have time to work out. Diet tracking apps are so easy to use, at least give it a week to see what it's really like.
When you write out a plan you are giving yourself a clear set of directions towards your goal. You may need to change it as you progress, but at least you're moving along rather than waiting to get started or going around in circles. Even if the first and only step in your plan is “GET HELP MAKING A PLAN,” once you take that step you are miles ahead of where you started.
Ryan Casselman is a personal trainer, musician, and the founder of Real Trainers. Stay tuned as he finds out what he's going to write about each week or so!