Here’s a confession: I’m the uncrowned queen of planning. I make to-do lists and write down visions and goals, I define and outline and determine steps to take. Seriously, if I got paid for my planning skills, I’d be a millionairess several times over.
That’s as it should be, isn’t it? After all, I am a Coach and I’m always going on about the importance of written goals and getting clarity and all that. The issue is that clarity and planning need to be followed by concrete steps in order to be successful, and that’s where I often fall down. It’s all good and well to outline the future, but unless we take action in the present, right now, nothing will ever come of all the planning.
This is what I love most about Coaching: the way it gets people into action mode. An article can never replace this, because by its nature it is a monologue, rather than the exchange between a Coach and a client with its inherent magic and the transformative results it brings. I can, however, outline steps for you to take, and give you techniques to avoid some of the most common pitfalls, and this is what I’ll attempt to do in the following.
The “Monday Diet”
Don’t worry, I’m only using weight loss as an analogy for any goal you might wish to achieve. Dieting is simply an example most people have heard about. We all have either been there, or watched someone else struggle with their weight.
One of the most common mistakes people make is that they plan to take action “starting Monday” or “after the holidays” or whatever else is convenient to put the action into the future. This does two things: It gives people a perceived license to eat unhealthy things or two much of everything for the time being, which is counterproductive to their goal, and it puts the desired behaviour into a clearly defined exceptional state, which will always contrast with what’s “normal”.
Other goals work exactly the same way. If you plan for the future, your goal will always be in the future. And if working on your goal will be an exceptional state, it will by definition never become the normal way of doing things.
Stop thinking and start doing
Here are the promised steps to take in order to move from theory into practice.
1. Start now. This may seem to run contrary to what I usually suggest about goal planning. Indeed, I don’t recommend dropping the planning, I only recommend a slight change to the order in which you do things. Start by determining your goal, and then before you figure out the details, take action immediately. In other words, if you want to lose weight, start by making healthier choices with the very next meal. If you’d like to start yoga, look up a yoga for beginners video on YouTube and do your first exercises NOW. If you want to start saving money, phone your bank and set up a savings account straight away.
2. Take action every single day. You may be busy, you may be tired, you may be sick. You won’t always be at your best, but to keep up the momentum after getting started, you need to do something every single day. Save your change every single day. Do five minutes of gentle stretching if you are too exhausted for a full workout. The point is to create a habit, and this can only be done by consistent action.
3. Keep planning. This is where my usual suggestions come in: Write down, clarify, review and modify your goal. Determine the next steps to take. All I’m saying that you should do this AFTER the first step(s), when you are already in action mode. Don’t be afraid of modifying goals or throwing some of them out altogether; as long as you are clear on what you want at this particular time, and keep taking action towards that goal, you are good. Change is part of life, and you never “waste” action just because your goal might change. The action you take is doing you good and makes you grow, which is far more important than the goal itself.
Promise yourself that after you finish reading this newsletter, you will get up and take a first step. Anything goes, as long as it is action. You’ve been thinking about it for long enough, it’s time to get up, get going, and get your goal.
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