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Planning Kinda Sucks

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Outside of an exception of a very small percentage of you reading this, planning is something that most of us actively avoid. It kinda sucks, actually. So how can we do it anyway with the least amount of pain possible? Here’s a start.

This is a continuation of what I started in “The Weight We Carry.”

 You don’t necessarily have to read that first, but I reference it from time to time in this post.

Outside of an exception of a very small percentage of you reading this, planning is something that most of us actively avoid. This is particularly true for those of you that are afraid of the possibilities of what the future might bring, or you’re simply not sure of exactly how you’re going to get where you’re going.

I fall in a pretty particular category of “planning avoidance.” I much prefer the creative and development aspects of any given project or goal. It is this creativity that typically would lead me to derail myself from planning activities all together. After all, “we’ve got to get stuff done!”

However, the question becomes “get stuff done in service of what?” Any plan even at it’s simplest, most “cocktail napkin” level, is a way of creating action behind intention. These two things put together are what actually create results.

Nothing you’ll be seeing here is new or revolutionary information. In fact, it’s probably more common sense than you realize. I’d even argue that most of you already know how to reach your goal or resolution, or you at least have an idea of how you can get started. If you don’t, I’ll be giving a tip for that too.

So, here are some golden questions that can get you moving easily and quickly.  Along each step, I’m going to use the example of losing weight, which I shared in “The Weight We Carry.”  I’ll even share some of the basic tools and visuals?

What is the overall, big goal that you want to reach?

This is the “moon shot,” or the final destination.  When it came to weight loss, I knew that my goal was to drop down to 200 pounds.  Sitting at 286.2 pounds, where I was when I first took on the challenge of losing weight, it seemed like the only reason to get started.  If I was going to lose weight, I was going to lose big.

Simply, you have to pick your destination if you’re going to get somewhere.

How will you be when you have that goal?  What will you be doing?

Both of these factors are important, but the “being” is the creme filling in the center of the cookie.  It’s the whole reason you’re doing it in the first place.  In my case, I had very specific “feeling states” in mind of what it would be like once the weight was gone.

  • I would feel peaceful.
  • I would feel self-confident/less self-conscious.
  • I would express myself more fully.

One of the big driving factors for the weight loss was the fact that I was on stage every other week.  Standing in front of a room of anywhere from 30 to 150 people two or three times a month, especially talking about success and making money, felt really disingenuous at 286 pounds.  I knew that my message got through, yet I remained convinced that my message would be stronger coming from a stronger physical vehicle.

From there, I envisioned the actions that would go along with it.  I didn’t know the EXACT behaviors, I just had some vague ideas about the following:

  • I’d probably be exercising.  At that point I didn’t really know anything about exercise and had the unrealistic assumption that I’d be working out 7 days a week.  It’s not to say I’ve never done that, but learning more about physical fitness taught me that I had to have rest and recovery days in there with lighter activity.
  • I’d probably be eating healthier.  I imagined I’d have my favorite foods every once in a while, but probably eat a lot more “simply.”  I didn’t really know what that meant – and I also wasn’t aware of my allergy to green vegetables at the time – so there were a lot of greens in there.
  • I’d be more “active,” meaning that I’d intentionally be getting myself out of the house more and into life or my community.  I didn’t have big ambitions of climbing Mount Everest or anything, yet I really just imagined that I’d be out doing a lot more with myself rather than collapsing on the couch at the end of a busy day.

What’s one thing a week you could start doing now?

I knew that taking everything on at once was going to be a big mistake, especially since I’d tried that approach before.  For example, at one point in 2005, I went about 5 or 6 months solely eating Lean Cuisines.  In fact, I was so committed it was basically 1 of 3 Lean Cuisines every day.  Of course, that’d get old fast.

So, I had to make some really simple changes.  Here’s a sampling of a few of them:

  • I will try a new form of exercise each week OR I will try to go a little longer doing a form of exercise I’d already done before.
  • I was going to try a type of food I had never tried before at least one each week.
  • I will change one item on each of my plates for a healthier option.
  • I was going to make sure that I was doing an “activity,” whether social or something else, at least once a week.

With those examples (and there were more), I was actually only doing one or two of the three of these each week.

Visual of Weight LossSurround yourself with visual reminders.

I’m not a visual person, in fact I’m way more mental.  First Week ScaleYet having visuals all around me constantly brought me back to the state of thinking about what I was doing.  Around this text are just a couple of the examples I kept around.  The one on the left, which is actually well into the process (as you can see) was something I printed out each week from the weight tracking site.  The visual on the right was a reminder of where I started at the beginning of the process.  As I mentioned earlier, it was likely much higher than that in the beginning.

This can work for anything, regardless of the type of goal.  I continue to do this with Pathways, my overall financial goals, and really any other goal I set for myself.  It’s become more advanced than taping it to my bathroom mirror or steering wheel and has moved on to the wallpapers/images on my computer desktop and my cell phone.  If you ever really want to know what I’m working on, that’s a good way to find out.  I’ve probably got a visual reminder of it somewhere.

Your plan doesn’t necessarily have to be a complete, step-by-step guide to every action you take on a given day.

This is a really important one, especially for those of you who have registered for One Simple Shift with a concern regarding planning or clarity.

How can you answer those questions today for yourself?

  • What do I really want?
  • What will I feel when I have it?
  • What will I be doing when I’ve got it?
  • What do I need to do now to start making it happen?
  • How will I remind myself visually?

Transformation by choice begins with first steps.  Simple changes.  These are a way that you can get those started now.

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