There is a saying that is forever floating around social media – ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. I’m not sure that this is always true as there is certainly something to be said for living in the moment and going with the flow at times. However, particularly when you are embarking on a variety of lifestyle changes, there are certainly some benefits to planning ahead. Having a plan in place can help reduce anxiety around deciding what to do and can help you move forward toward the goals you have set out for yourself.
For example, you might have decided you’d like to work on exercising more regularly throughout the week – perhaps 3-4 times a week. Firstly you might plan which days (and times) you will exercise throughout the week. If you have trouble remembering to eat you might also like to leave yourself little notes around the house or reminders in your phone to encourage and prompt you.
This is the first part of the plan – the timing. What you do each time you exercise doesn’t have to matter initially, it’s more about forming the habit of doing SOMETHING 3-4 times a week. If you haven’t decided on which times you intended to exercise or set yourself a few prompts or reminders, it would be much easier for you to lose track of time, get distracted and not follow through with your intentions.
Once you are used to exercising more regularly, you might want to plan the next stage which might be to increase the duration of the exercise you are doing. Or you might wish to increase the intensity of your sessions. Decide what you’d prefer and start to plan in a little more detail than you did previously about what you will do and how long you will do it for.
Only worry about planning a day or two in advance in too much detail, circumstances change and you might have trouble sticking to something you planned a week ago. Don’t set yourself up to not be able to reach a target. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t do exactly what you planned but having thought about things in advance will certainly assist in making them more likely to become a reality.
A couple of other situations where we find planning ahead can be of real assistance on your journey toward a healthier and fitter you include:
- Looking at menus of the restaurant you are going to go to for a meal in advance thinking about what you’d most like to eat. We can often get overwhelmed by the choices available and the pressure to make a decision when you’re at the restaurant and everyone is ordering.
- Deciding what you’ll cook for dinner the night before or early in the day. It will save time when you go shopping for something when you’re tired, hungry and just want to get home. It may help avoid just grabbing the first thing you can find that may not satisfy you and you probably didn’t REALLY want anyway.
Remember, you shouldn’t feel guilty or beat yourself up if things don’t go quite to plan or if you really want to do something other than what you’d planned. However, having some preparation when you’re making changes in your life can make a big difference when it comes to whether you actually turn these changes into long term habits.
Give is a go this week. You can try it with just about any aspect of your lifestyle that you’re looking to adjust. Don’t plan too far ahead though – just put one foot in front of the other. Take it day by day and do the best that you can.
Change can be challenging, you won’t be ‘perfect’ (whatever that means!) all the time. We’re not supposed to be. We’re just meant to do the best we can at the time, in the situation in which we end up.