Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

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In business planning is key, if you work I am sure you work to a particular plan or routine or even shift pattern. We probably do this every day without thinking, often we will be working to someone else’s plan. So why is it that when it comes to setting life goals, so many of us don’t think about planning them?

 I talk in particular about fitness goals on this occasion but it translates to all aspects of life. Over the past few weeks people have commented on my planning, I plan everything and by self-confession it may be a little obsessive however I believe that if you have set goals planning is key.

Let’s think about the gym, you start out and buy yourself new gym clothes and trainers you psych yourself up, you take out a membership and you take yourself down to the gym. Often this is where the planning ends you have done it, you have got yourself in the door but then you don’t know what to do next, right?

What are the advantages of going in armed with a plan? You can track your progress better, you can see where you’re going wrong, you can learn your strengths and weaknesses, you can learn to look forward to moving forward in your fitness plan week by week. The best bit, for me, control! It allows you to be in control of your own progress, it allows you to learn and grow.

I don’t suggest that a strict plan, like mine, works for everyone but maybe parts of what I do could help you reach your goals. So here’s what I do to make my plan.

1. Start at the end / be specific
Yes, I said the end, I think about the end point, where I ultimately want to be, what am I working towards. If you don’t know why you’re doing something or what you really want you are sure to get lost along the way.
 For instance if your goal is “getting fit” it’s a little vague isn’t it. Be specific! think inch loss, think weight loss, weight gain, think about how fast can you run, how heavy can you lift. Also when doing this, think about WHY, why do you want this? because trust me you will need to remind yourself this when times get hard, because they will.

Call this your mission statement if you like.
 I am currently working towards two goals, only my PT knows one of them & a close friend the other. You don’t have to share them widely, share them with those who you trust, with those who will help you, or no one at all. That’s up to you.

2. Make it measurable
Look at where you currently are and where you want to be (e.g. how much weight do you want to lose, how heavy can you lift, how far can you run) , what tools do you have at your disposal to help you achieve, what barriers are there, what other plans do you have in coming weeks/months that might get in the way, when will you have a break, what time do you have available to you, what help do you need. ALL these type of aspects are key in planning. 
Write them all down, map out your challenges, see where you can over come barriers, are you making these barriers? if so break them down. 
I started in January I broke the first three months down. Jan – March.
 I looked at what I had up and coming for work, when I had parties, nights out etc. (things that could throw you off), what fitness events I wanted to do. This allowed me to see that my annual swim was perfectly placed at the end of March, so I had to ensure that I swam at least once a week.

Now this might sound like a lot of forward thinking but really its 12 weeks, 12 weekends, 12 Mondays. If your serious about reaching your goals then this is nothing.

I broke each week down and looked at when I had something on that would steer me of course, so yes I pre plan my lazy weekends, my drinking weekends, my strict weekends, my I can do what I want time. It’s all planned.

When I had the “what needs to be done” in place I started to build upon around it. Looking at my time available and workouts I wanted to do. I started off with quite a lot of gaps and now into week six my schedule is quite strict, but I have built this up over the 5 weeks, learned how much I can do , how much spare time I need, how much preparation time, what muscles groups need working, what works, what doesn’t. You get the picture.
  
3. Make it achievable/stay accountable.
You aint going to do this is three months, maybe not even 12 months so break the goals down. You might want some help here, I do it with the help of a personal trainer. I told her what I wanted and she told me how to be realistic about achieving it.

So I got my full body analysis done, took photos, wrote down measurements, wrote down what I can lift (because for me that is a main focus), researched how to get to where I want safely.

Having all this information written down I can celebrate small successes, pick out weaknesses, learn from mistakes.

Every Sunday I sit down and plan my weeks food. Yup every meal. In doing this I ultimately save money, because I only buy what I need. I am not tempted to snack because I have my meals prepared, it doesn’t take long, a few days prep can be done it an hour or so.  And I can plan the days food around my activities, switching it up if needed.

Now food has been a struggle for me but I cannot stress this enough YOUR DIET WILL BE THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS. I could repeat this until I turn purple, DIET IS KEY! My food prep is just as important as my workout preparation. I might need to miss a workout because my body is crying out or I need to rearrange my schedule at the last minute or something else gets in the way. However if my food is planned this no longer worries me I can still stay on track.

I won’t go into what to eat and when, but if anyone wants to see what I eat then I track it all on my fitness pal, ask me and you can have a look.  I won’t go into it because everyone’s nutritional needs are different. I work closely with my trainer to trial and error different food plans until will we get it right. But I will say it again YOUR DIET, that’s the nutritional choices you make day in day out, IS KEY!
 I believe that this is key because let’s say its Monday you are having a bad day at work and your mind wanders, if lunch time comes and you go to the supermarket the chances are you are going to spend a fortune and make questionable choices, at very least pick up that small treat for later. If its planned you eat it, you know you like it and you feel good for it.
Let’s take that same Monday, you have a party on the Friday, this means drink and nibbles. You have this pre planned, you have have tweaked your nutrients to allow you to indulge a little. I doubt you will be as tempted to waver if you have your pre planned food waiting for you, knowing you can have your weekend guilt free.

Every Sunday I also plan my workouts, this is largely the same or being built upon each week, I lay out what cardio, HIIT and strength work I want to do, I plan my exercises so that I vary them each week therefore I don’t get bored, I plan my rest but allow space to change that if needed. Because this is largely the same each week it doesn’t take much time to plan, I just switch it up a little or increase the intensity of sessions.
Some mornings I am tired but still take myself to the gym at 7 am, sometimes I cancel plans with friends or avoid dinners out but this is my choice, it is a temporary sacrifice to ultimately reach my long term goals & those closest to me respect this. 
You may not choose to be this strict but regardless knowing what work outs go with what meal and what day of the week is a massive help in long term achievement.
 This might seem restrictive but if you want to reach your goals badly enough this will help you reach them it also allows you to have space for the times where your ultimately going to go a little of track. (becasue it will happen!)
 Every week I look back on what I achieved, what worked, what didn’t, what exercise to group together, where I need more support, what I need to change as the weeks go on. This way I don’t get too scared by setbacks, I don’t lose sight of the end goal because I don’t often think about the end goal, just the small chunks that will get me there.

Now you might be reading this thinking OMG this must take forever, this week my planning took me under 3 hours. This was longer than usual but I have a few things to work around this week and wanted to be sure I got it right. But that’s it once its planned its written down and if  I cheat on a meal or miss a workout I am only accountable to me. I don’t spend every day nagging my trainer about where I go wrong or what I do well (she might disagree with that) but largely I keep myself accountable because ultimately, yes, people want to see you succeed but REALLY no one else will be as passionate about your goals as you & to be honest if that ever changes then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
 
4. TRUST THE PROCESS

You won’t change overnight, so learn to trust the process. This can be one of the hardest parts but if you have your process tracked along the way you will see results slowly and celebrate small victories. If you are consistent over long periods of time you will reach your goal.

Be consistent with your own goals don’t be tempted by what those around you do because there will always be someone who appears to be doing better, lifting heavier, eating the best diet, getting the best results. However the chances are that’s not the case so don’t be led by what everyone else does this will cause you more harm than good!

Learn from your mistakes, question why you don’t succeed, ask silly questions and fall over every now and again this is again all part of the process.

 SO THATS HOW I DO IT…..
This gives a little insight into how I plan my weeks and why. I could go into a lot more detail but generally this is what I do & how, I believe, I will reach my desired goals in time. It helps me stay focussed and accountable. Taking those 3 hours out of my week to plan what I am doing is invaluable to me, it means day to day I get up and I am focused for the day ahead with very little thought about it.
 
Everyone lives are different and some people might find they simply can’t plan because life is too busy but my personal belief is that week in week out most of us live fairly repetitive lifestyles even if they are hectic. However, I think everyone can benefit from some planning to help them achieve their goals regardless of what they are.
 
 If anyone has any questions or wants to know where to start, send me a wee message I can maybe provide more detail or explanation to how I break things down or refer you to the professionals that help me.
 
Happy planning
Ainey x

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