What's Your Plan?
My boot camp trainer, Gerald, ends each class with a pep talk. Sweaty and tired, angry with the additional burpees that were tacked on to the end of the workout, we gather around, hands meeting in the middle, while we listen to Gerald remind us of our intention for the week. On the count of the 3 we repeat the word or phrase, high five, and break for the door, better than when we started 45 minutes ago. Our word this week was PLAN. And Gerald shared something that I had never heard and that I will never forget:
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Let me say that again.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
I really wish I had been the one to come up with this saying but, alas, it is not my own. And I don't know who said it first. I want to thank them. There is no arguing about this one. It is 100% accurate. And if we all just take a moment to think about it, we can find evidence in our own lives that reinforces this simple statement. Rushed trips to the grocery store that lead to a mediocre dinner, usually served late, usually not as healthy as we would like. A busy week when I make the assumption that I'll find time for my workout, without ever actually looking at my calendar to schedule in that 45 minutes. A bill that is paid late. A diet that is broken (AGAIN) because I didn't have any clue about what the restaurant served so I ate whatever I was in the mood for.
These seem like such minor things. I mean they are minor things, until they become the pattern of our life. We call that pattern a HABIT, and once our habits are grounded in a lack of forethought and planning, they define the direction of our life. They serve to prevent us from not just feeling like we haven't reached our goals, but that lack of planning actually prevents us from reaching our goals. What an uncomfortable reality! We, with our lack of planning, are responsible for what happens to our goals. It would be so much easier to blame it on something else, like time or work or distractions. Oh, wait - we DO blame it on those things. Well, enough of that nonsense.
Let's plan. Let's plan to succeed. Write it down. Stop the nonsense of saying "I know what I have to do - I won't forget" and just write it down. Or type it in - whatever suits your fancy. Want to eat healthy today? Look around your kitchen and construct your healthy meals, pack your lunch, defrost your dinner. Not eating at home? Find out where you are eating and look at their menu. Plan to bring your own healthy snack if you are out all day. Plan what you are going to replace your 9pm craving with when it inevitably rears its ugly head. Plan for every contingency, and then plan for a backup, and a backup for your backup. I can hear you now saying - "but that takes so much work". Yeah, well so does using your precious energy to ruminate on your latest failed goal. Planning isn't hard. Planning just takes time. But it is so rewarding.
Consider this. We pack for a long trip. We think about what we are going to wear, for all sorts of possible weather conditions. We pack for 8 days but add 2 extra pairs of underwear - just in case. We have looked at maps. We have checked Trip Advisor for information about our hotel. We have circled the arrival gate, so we don't forget. We have made dinner reservations. We might have even purchased travel insurance. And we have our list of questions that we need to ask the concierge once we get there. A plan, with backups, often leads to a perfectly lovely trip.
Do plans fall through? Absolutely. Do backup plans fall through? Sadly, yes. But with all of our planning, when things DO go wrong, we are all the more equipped to handle the disruption because a funny things happens when you plan. You learn about all of the other paths you could take. You see that you have lots of paths you can follow to get to the same place. Planning is for preparation, but it also serves as our teacher. We learn how to navigate life even better when we commit ourselves to laying out a viable plan. We learn about what works for us - and what doesn't - and we have the knowledge to begin again, more intelligently. AHA! I didn't say that either....I think that is part of a famous quote from long ago.
My plan for the week (and my life) will look drastically different than someone else's plan. It absolutely should. I know what works for me. And if I make a plan that doesn't quite work, then I know to make adjustments the next go around, and those adjustments will be all my own as well. I write down my plan. I own my decision to plan. I follow my plan. If I can't follow my plan, I make a new one that works for me. And I eventually find my path to success.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So let's try something new: PLAN TO SUCCEED.