In part 1 of this article, I showed you how to properly set goals by being specific, giving yourself a deadline and making your goals positively oriented. I also showed you a technique where you actually visualize yourself after you’ve hit that goal and you imagine what it actually feels like. In part 2 of this article, I’m going to show you a step by step process to take that goal, and create a plan of action for achieving that goal. When you are creating this plan, remember this:
“You can’t reach the top of the mountain in a giant leap-but you can get there if you take the stairs.”
So in essence, what we are about to do is take your mountain of a goal, and break it down into individual obtainable steps. For the sake of this exercise, we are going to continue with the example we used in part 1, which involved losing 30 pounds in 10 weeks. Remember the goal that you wrote down? This is our end all final achievement. We will call this our mission statement. Here is what we came up with last time, and the one that you wrote should be posted in plain view.
“Today is December 5, and I am 30 pounds lighter. I look a lot better, and I feel great. People have complemented me on how I look healthier and am a more enjoyable person to be around. I can now participate in activities I’ve always wanted to do but felt limited by my weight.”
So how can we break this down? Well since we gave ourselves 10 weeks, the best way to me sounds like breaking this up into 10 obtainable milestones that we need to complete along the way. Hitting the 10th and final milestone would complete the mission. Now we need to set up each milestone accordingly. Please note, 30 pounds in 10 weeks can be a big stretch if losing those 30 pounds would mean giving you six-pack abs. I don’t personally believe that this is obtainable to do so in a healthy manner. But for an individual who is much more overweight, it is very possible. I am using weight loss for the sake of this exercise. If your goal is weight loss, I recommend speaking to your physician about what is realistically possible for you (and then try to outdo what they say of course).
Since we are using weight loss as our mission, it is ok that we don’t set our milestones equally because it is much easier to lose those first 10 pounds then it is the last 10 pounds. I would recommend this schedule. Weeks 1 & 2 lose 4 pounds a week. Weeks 3 – 8, lose 3 pounds a week. Weeks 9 & 10 lose 2 pounds a week.
Now did you notice something about these milestones? Pounds don’t just disappear in chunks just because you made the number smaller. Completing a milestone may not be the same as leaping to the top of a mountain, but it is like leaping to the top of a hill. So, like what we did with our mission statement, we will continue to chunk down on our milestones until we can break them down into smaller more obtainable goals. I would recommend writing each milestone down on an index card on the top line (sticky notes work well too). On each index card, further break down your milestone into individually achievable goal. For example, on one card, you may list:
Week 1 Milestone: lose 4 pounds
Monday: run 1 mile
Tuesday: lift weights for half an hour
Wednesday: run 1 mile
Thursday: lift weights for half an hour
Friday: run 1.25 miles
Saturday: lift weights for half an hour
Sunday: day off (eat healthy!)
If you are really feeling diligent, you can break this down even further! You may want to list exactly what you eat on Monday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You may want to plan out a healthy sleeping schedule. Remember, the more specific and detailed you are, the more likely you are to achieve your desired outcome.
Do you remember hearing about the straight A high school students who flunked out of college? Do you know why? In high school, everything was planned out for them. They had English first period, Math second period, Chemistry third period and so forth. They followed a schedule that was strictly enforced, and they were able to thrive in that situation, even if it was to avoid the negative consequences of things like cutting class (this is away from motivation and we want to use towards motivation – we want to look great and feel healthy). However, once they got to college, they were given a lot more freedom, such as optional lectures and readings, and eventually they couldn’t keep up because they lost that feeling of an automatic schedule, where everything is laid out for them. We can argue about there being many other reasons, but I’m not going to go there right now.
You may think that this involves a lot of work. But in reality, the amount of time spent on this activity is only a fraction of the amount of time spent on achieving your mission. If you spent 5 hours a week working on your mission, what’s an extra half hour the first week? I’ll give you a little hint to help start you off so write this down. Goal #1: write down your milestone schedule!
Remember, in order to have success, you must first plan to have success.