I often hear, “I’ll start focusing on my health once I have more time.”
Unfortunately, in my 15 years of working with clients, I’ve learned that more time never comes. They have full-time jobs, families, social obligations, and countless other responsibilities – they’re always crammed for time. However, I’ve noticed a common thread amongst my most successful clients. They plan ahead.
What happens when you don’t plan ahead.
When you first start out, you think that simply telling yourself that you’re going to workout this week will suffice. And, well, that’d be enough if you already have an established health routine. But even then, this usually fails. Like most people, you’re going to be caught off guard by an unplanned event that derails your intentions of being more active and eating better. Looking back on it. However, you probably could’ve handled the situation differently, if only you had prepared for it.
Maybe it was the workout you intended to do this afternoon. Your plan to swing by your house, grab your exercise clothes, and fit in a quick workout during your lunch break is quickly derailed when an unexpected work meeting gets placed on your calendar. All a sudden you don’t have time to get your workout clothes, and you’ve gone yet another day without exercise.
Or maybe you haven’t been intentional with managing your stress lately. Now you find yourself in the drive-thru (instead of eating the healthy dinner you intended to eat) because you had a long, terrible day at the office.
When you take the time to plan, you give yourself an opportunity to anticipate these unexpected events and find a way around them.
To consistently accomplish your daily or weekly goals, you must schedule them like you would a doctor’s appointment, a kid’s dance recital, or a work presentation. Scheduling raises your level of commitment and the likelihood that you will follow through on your plans.
This is the fundamental difference between my successful clients and someone who doesn’t reach their fitness goals. If you want to start making progress towards your goals, you’ve got to build a plan of action.
What planning ahead looks like in fitness
Our successful clients know which meals will be eaten at home, and which ones will be eaten on the road. They know if they have any social events or parties to attend in which they will not have control over their food environment.
They know when they can work out and set that time aside each day. It’s blocked off, and nothing can touch it. By following a plan, they are usually never caught off guard. And when there is a surprise, they adjust accordingly. They know what to expect each day, and they can make progress towards a bigger picture or goal, rather than allowing life to dictate their agenda.
When you first start, you’ll want to plan only one type of activity. This will be a gradual process, but it will prevent you from getting burned out before you start seeing progress.
Planning now leads saving more time later.
“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Planning ahead saves you time and energy and allows you to be in the present moment. When you make a plan, you’ll multitask less and prevent being overwhelmed by the sheer burden of your to-do list. You’ll learn how to commit to the task at hand, put all your effort into doing your best work, and then move on to the next part of your day.
Put simply, you’ll have more time to do more of the things that you enjoy. (Learn more about how mindfulness helps busy people get more done.)
Even if your plan to fit in a one-hour workout is sometimes interrupted, at the very least having a plan will make it easier to adapt in the future because it will help you identify the obstacles that are in your way. For example, maybe your new strategy can consist of thirty-minute workouts instead of a one-hour workout.
After all, consistency (not sporadic workouts) is what will get you closer to weight loss or muscle growth. If you begin taking small, persistent steps, you’ll develop the momentum you need to make real progress.
How to put it all together
Before you develop some elaborate plan to be the healthiest person on Earth, you need to keep this idea of starting small in mind.
In other words, focus on the one area that’ll help you make the most progress towards your goal. And hey, if your plan doesn’t go well, then you can always opt for good enough instead of perfect! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Remember, consistency is key.
Here’s how to put your plan together:
- Choose one area you want to improve.
- Break down that area into an actionable goal you can do throughout the week. (Learn more
about starting with small goals.)
- Build your strategy to accomplish this goal for the upcoming week.
- Work your plan.
- Record whether you completed your daily goal. If not, why not?
- Reflect on your week’s progress.
- Make adjustments to your plan for the next week.
Planning is a skill, and like any skill, it gets better with practice. When you add this tool to your toolbox, you’ll find it’s an invaluable skill for you and your fitness goals.
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About the author
I am in the possibility business. I challenge people to question themselves and their limits, with the goal to always exceed their expectations. I challenge them to push beyond their limits and their comfort zone to achieve feats of strength and endurance that they always thought were impossible.