You Have Goals, But Do You Have a Plan?

You Have Goals, But Do You Have a Plan?

Posted On:
October 12, 2023

When you make a general goal it is really easy to not know where to start. And the thought of “I need to do this” gets to be overwhelming. And although you know what you would like to do, you don’t put any kind of plan in place. Or you may think you know where to start but you really haven’t gone basic enough. 

When a client comes to work with me, the goal is often to lose weight. And one way they can go about that is to eat healthier. Many times they have a good idea of what healthy eating looks like, they just aren’t taking the steps to make it happen. They don’t intentionally plan. They may grocery shop and buy foods they like but fall short on cooking them. OR they may have no clue on how to actually put together a healthy meal they enjoy. They think that every week they will make healthy actions because in that moment they are motivated to do so. But when the food they didn't cook spoils or they start not enjoying the foods they purchased, motivation starts fading pretty fast and they fall back into their old habits. 

If your goal is to eat healthier, healthy food is just not magically going to appear. You need to put a plan into place for how you are obtaining the food. It is going to take a grocery run, picking up something ready made, getting a delivery of food etc. And when is that going to happen? Even if you are getting food delivered you need to have some kind of planning with when the provider typically makes deliveries. When you are shopping yourself you will need to have time to go to the store, do the shopping, come home and unpack.

While you can just go shop and pick up items, what are you actually wanting to buy? Do you have anything in the house you want to use up? How many meals can you plan on cooking and eating from this grocery haul? 

Sometimes just that part of intentional planning can be very overwhelming for people and they want to throw their hands up and quit. But know it won’t always be so complicated. You can decide that you would rather get delivery or you don’t mind going to the store during your lunch break on Thursday. With the intentional planning you start to find your groove but it does take being very intentional at first for the action to happen.

Intentional planning really doesn’t have to be time consuming either, but it does need to find a spot into your life. For figuring out the best place for planning to fit, I suggest a method that author James Clear came up with called habit stacking. Essentially you take two things you do daily that occur close together and put your planning time into that. I first used habit stacking to make sure my dishwasher was unloaded daily. My husband and I both love to cook so we fill the dishwasher every night and run it before bed. When we didn’t unload it in the morning the result would be dirty dishes sitting on the counter. My desk/office is within view of the kitchen so I would constantly find myself stressed out about the clutter of the dishes piling up. I don’t consider myself a neat freak at all, but things sitting out on counter tops that aren’t supposed to be there really did increase my stress. Since running the dishwasher overnight was already a habit that was really working for us, it definitely made the most sense to unload the dishwasher in the morning. So to find a habit stack that I fit for unloading the dishwasher, I made a list of things I do every day without fail. While my mornings can vary quite a bit, one thing I ALWAYS do is drink coffee. So while the coffee is brewing  I unload the dishwasher and I don’t drink my first cup until I’ve completed emptying the dishwasher. 

I have many clients that do their intentional planning for the day around their morning coffee. The habit stack for them looks similar to this, they pour their cup of coffee (or whatever morning beverage they enjoy) and do their planning before checking email or any social media. 

Intentional planning doesn’t just have to involve thinking about food. This is a great time to also think about if you have time for a workout that day or at least a 10 or 15 minute block to go for a quick walk. You can look at your to do list and refresh your memory on any scheduled appointments or errands that you need to do. If looking at those items the same day doesn’t work for you, you can look at a few days ahead or the week as a whole. 

Part of the key to staying consistent with this is not to make it overwhelming. To do this, I recommend setting a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and only focus on the planning. Ignore your email and texts and just think about all of the above. If you have struggled with food, make that your priority and do it first in the planning. 

Starting with 5 or 10 minutes might not seem like much, but it also makes getting the planning done realistic and less threatening. No matter how crazy busy your life is, you have 5 or 10 minutes to spare. Just make sure you stay attentive. If something happens that you can’t ignore and you get pulled away, pause your timer and come back to it as quick as you can. 

In the beginning, remind yourself of your habit stack. Putting this new action into two existing actions should help you to remember, but it doesn't hurt to have that extra little push. If you are stacking around coffee put a post it on your coffee machine or on the coffee package. If you look at your calendar first thing, put the planning as an appointment. Just like the repetition of the power phrase you won’t need that reminder forever, but in the beginning it might help you to remember the planning you are trying to achieve. 

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