A goal without an action plan is a bit like a building without a foundation. It might appear structurally sound, but it is not likely to stay standing for very long.
I am interested to know how your 2019 goals are going so far? I ask this because we are now around three months after the most significant goal setting date of the year – January 1st. Perhaps you wanted to lose that 20 pounds for the last five years and despite every year making it a goal, you have yet to do it but this year, this will be your year. So, what has changed?
A goal is only as good as the effort applied to achieving it. A statement of intent will not actually lead you over the finish line, it merely gives you an option to start. Goals are things we aspire to achieve so naturally they will take some time, effort and commitment to realize. If you made a list to kick start your year, did you also make an action plan to go with it? If you have already found yourself promising to start next week or finding those small excuses as to why ‘now’ just won’t work, maybe you need to dedicate a little time to creating that action plan (it’s not too late!). If you are off to a flying start then high fives all round and after reading this article, check back over your plan to see if there are ways to refine and clarify the steps you have laid out that will lead you to success.
If the goal you set is your ‘what’, then your action plan is your ‘how’ and your value system creates your ‘why’. They are all interdependent. Without a what, you don’t know what it is you are striving for, without a why, the what is just an idea without any commitment to the cause and without a how, the what and the why are as good as being lost without any means of navigation.
An action plan should be simple and easy to follow, it is after all your roadmap for success. Before I begin to create a plan, I like to start out with a visualization exercise. Find a quiet spot, get comfy, close your eyes and begin to imagine what achieving your goal looks like. If you are visual person this should come easily, if not, rather than try to create a picture, use this time to imagine how you will feel when you have achieved your goal. Think of how your success affects you, those around you, your home and work life and how success will ultimately shape your future. Once you have spent some time seeing and feeling your achievement you can begin to think about small steps that will help you get there. In your visualization were there friends or family present who could help you, were you in a particular location that supported success, was there an activity that came up that inspired you to get involved? These could all be clues as to how best to succeed. If this is your first action plan, the most important element to it is creating manageable steps that you can actually check off of a list. Ask yourself the following?
– What can I add to my life to achieve my goal rather than take away? For example, if your goal involves losing weight, start out by trying to add more veggies to your diet which can slowly replace refined carbs.
– What can I reasonably and realistically achieve in one week, one month, three months? Having something to check off is critical to longer term success. If the only box to check is seeing the scale drop by 20 pounds you will quickly become frustrated as this will take a while to check off.
– Who can I enlist to help with accountability? Surrounding yourself with a great support network is vital to getting started and staying committed to your goal.
– Look at your diary and take note of travel, significant work/life/family events and factor them into your plan. If you have an all-inclusive two-week cruise coming up is it reasonable to expect 2 pounds per week weight loss or would it be better to try to focus on maintaining and enjoying your time off?
Small steps may not seem significant but they add up. Simple steps may not be glamorous but they are achievable and afford you the opportunity to succeed. Supportive environments will keep you on track and help you when you struggle.
Take a moment to review the goals you set early in the new year and your progress towards achieving them. Now consider your action plan. Did you have one? Its not too late to start, so grab a notebook and map out some simple, clear steps and that all important short, medium and long term checklist. Good luck, you got this!
John Eric Home | Spring 2019
Health and Wellness Feature