Now that you have a better vision of what you want, we can start to fill in the details. If you missed the last post, I highly recommend you check it out here before continuing as I go through the process of figuring out what you truly want in life.
We need to create an action plan to move things forward. Some may groan because they find planning too restrictive. I, on the other hand, feel that planning gives me more freedom. I like having a flexible guide that shows that I’m making progress towards goals that are important to me. I have a harder time when I feel directionless; it stresses me out.
To create an action plan, we need to go backwards; you need to visualize yourself in the future having completed the goal(s) and decide what behaviours brought you to that point.
The following questions will help set up the logistics:
- When do I want to start these goals?
- When do I want to finish these goals?
- Why are these goals important to pursue?
- Why are they important to pursue now?
- How am I going to accomplish these goals?
- How will I feel if I don’t accomplish these goals?
For example, let’s say your goal is to lose 20lbs. You need to pick a start date and a reasonable end date. It’s generally accepted that you can safely lose 1-2lbs/week, so 4-8lbs/month. Now we’re looking at a date about 4 months away.
It’s also important, if not more so, to know why this goal is important to you. Do you want to have more energy? Do you want to feel more attractive? Is there a special event coming up? Is it to prevent certain illnesses? Whatever your reason (no judgement here), knowing your why is a great motivator when you run into snags in the plan and you will because no plan is perfect.
What is your reason for pursuing it now? Have you tried to accomplish this goal before? If so, what derailed you? If not, what has stopped you from starting?
Now for the plan. The easiest way I know is to work out the behaviours needed to accomplish the goal and find a way to measure progress. So we know that to lose weight, you need a combination of about 20% exercise and 80% nutrition. If you haven’t been very active up until this point, I would suggest (with approval from your doctor of course) that you start with 1-3 sessions for 20-30mins/week. As far as the nutrition part goes, start with a food journal for a week or two. Be honest about what is recorded in it too; no one needs to see it but you (and maybe your coach). It’s meant to be used as a learning tool to see how much you’re consuming and to see where adjustments can be made. Are the portions too big? Do you drink a lot of your calories? Do you often eat take out or boxed foods? Are you eating enough veggies?
To measure progress, you can use a calendar, journal or app to record workouts, use reps/sets/weight to monitor improvements in endurance and strength, a bodyweight scale, body measurements (chest, waist, hips, thighs and arms), how you feel, how your clothes fit, etc… You just need to find what consistently works for you.
And finally, how will you feel if you don’t accomplish this? This too can act as a strong motivator but this approach doesn’t work for everyone. If it in any way makes you feel bad about your progress or lack thereof, skip this part and use the other methods mentioned above. Remember, we’re after progress, not perfection.
How do you stay motivated?
Let me know in the comments!