A goal without a plan is just a wish. It’s not enough to just set goals. You must create a plan to achieve them. Here’s how to effectively plan success.
How Planning Has the Power to Unlock Your Success
There are a lot of great ideas in this world, but only a small minority of those ideas actually turn into a reality. The connecting force that takes those ideas and turns them into a physical manifestation is action.
Setting a goal is the first step towards turning an idea into something you can touch, see, and feel. However, a goal will only get you so far. People set goals every year but only a fraction of these people will ever achieve them. The difference? Planning and action.
Planning and taking action are actually two sides of the same coin. I prefer to combine the two ideas into a single concept – action planning. Action planning takes a single goal and breaks it down into many smaller action steps. These steps build on one another and slowly take you to the realization of your goal.
The Core Fundamentals of a Good Action Plan
Good action plans share many common characteristics. These include:
- Specific – vague goals get you vague results. That means simply saying “I want to lose weight”, isn’t going to cut it. How much do you want to lose, and by when? Give yourself an amount and an end date.
- Measurable – your action goals should be easily measurable. You want to clearly be able to say you either did something or you didn’t. Make them black and white. Grey areas give you opportunities to rationalize your lack of results.
- Attainable – it’s good to push yourself, but setting lofty goals can also set you up for failure. Let your main goal be where you reach for the stars. In contrast, your action goals should be small, targeted, and easily attainable. We want to ensure we reach them each time, however small they are. Over time, they add up. If you were to take one step up the ladder each day, eventually you’ll reach the top.
- Progressive – your action plan should be progressive in nature. That means each action goal should build on the previous one. Your plan should resemble instructions – a way to get from point A to point B.
How to Apply Planning to Your Fitness Lifestyle
Fitness is all about planning. Much of it is about trying to be the best person both physically and mentally you can be, and that takes some effort. Here are 5 aspects of fitness that need action planning to achieve success.
- Meal Planning – meal planning takes time, but it’s well worth the effort in the end. Knowing what you’re going to eat and when gives you power over food. Create an action plan by making a goal to find 10 healthy recipes one day. The next day you will figure out the calories, fat, carbs, and protein for each recipe. The next day you’ll add the ingredients to your grocery list. Continue breaking up this process until you’re able to reheat and eat your meals on demand.
- Workout Planning – your exercise program needs structure if you want to continually make progress. With proper planning you should know what your workout is going to be weeks or months in the future. Write down what you’re trying to achieve with your workouts. Then, start writing out your workouts for the week. Set weight and rep increments that are specific, measurable, attainable, and progressive. Over time you will be stronger and faster as a result.
- Mental Health Planning – this is probably the most neglected aspect of fitness. Finding ways to better rest, recover from workouts, and deal with stress is imperative to your success. Create an action plan to give yourself a specific amount of time each day or week to devote to decompressing. You might be surprised how this improves all aspects of your life.
- Weight Loss Progress – if your ultimate goal is to lose 50 pounds in one year, then it’s time to break up that number into several smaller goals. 50 pounds in a year is about 1 pound a week, which is much more mentally achievable. Create action goals to measure that progress with a scale, body fat caliper, tape measure, and progress pictures. Hold yourself accountable. Each pound you lose empowers you and gives you the confidence that your ultimate goal is achievable.
- Nutrition and Exercise Habits – where action planning really shines is through its power to create new and healthy habits. Changing your lifestyle takes a rewiring of your thought and action process. This is much more easily accomplished with small action goals. Your action goal this week might be to have 1 extra glass of water each day. It might be to cut out 1 soda each day, or it might be to add in 1 single day of exercise this week. These are specific and attainable goals – goals that accumulate and put you on the path to healthy and fit.