Last week I introduced the concept of the ‘planning place’. This is the place where you sketch out your future life’s schedule and accomplishments in a tidy, organized fashion.
There’s just one problem.
Life doesn’t normally stay tidy and organized. Hot water heaters fail. One dentist appointment turns into more dentist appointments. Your best friend entices you to ditch your plans.
So what can you do to take charge of your goals and better incorporate them into your life?
Here are five things you need to be aware of to help your plans stick around.
1) Energy Drains
Energy drains are the things that weigh on your mind and drag you down. They might be difficult phone calls you’ve been meaning to make, decisions you’ve been putting off, or anything that you’re tolerating that drives you nuts.
When thinking about adding in a new goal to your life it can actually be beneficial to first consider what energy drains you can remove. Working through that fight you’ve been having with your sister actually clears the way to having more willpower to put toward your new goal.
Note that you want to pick big ticket, completable items when clearing energy drains. Waiting until the dishwasher is unloaded before embarking on a new project won’t work because doing the dishes is a perpetual task. However, making the decision to move to a better living situation would be appropriate since it is a task that you can finish. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for support or assistance from others with clearing your energy drains.
2) Unsupportive Thoughts
When you embark on a new goal there are going to be thoughts that tempt you away from following through.
For example, if you were thinking about curbing your spending you might notice that your brain has a few standby thoughts that are in direct conflict with this goal.
“I deserve a treat.”
“Just this one time.”
Take a moment to identify the unsupportive thoughts you frequently think that relate to your goal. Notice what feelings and actions would follow these thoughts. When they do come up offer your brain a new perspective with a thought that supports your goal.
3) Supportive Thoughts
Identify a collection of thoughts that are in alignment with what you want to accomplish. These should be thoughts that you actually believe. You might think back to times when you were successful at achieving a goal in the past. What were you thinking at that time?
In my spending example these could be thoughts like:
“There are plenty of other ways to give myself a treat.”
“I can create the life I want one step at a time.”
Again, notice what feelings and actions would follow these thoughts. Try to generate more thoughts on your own that support your goal.
Consider what elements in your environment support or detract from your goal. Maybe attending an exercise class with a friend is a surefire way to keep you on track, while a pantry full of junk food will throw you for a loop.
Consciously clean up and create an environment that will be conducive to your success.
Another trick for considering your environment is to write about how you will handle any difficulties that crop up. For example, if you were trying to avoid gluten you might write about how you would handle the situation of going to a restaurant that provides a free bread basket.
Think ahead and prepare yourself for these situations. This will give you a plan for when they actually occur and assist you in actually following through with your intention.
One final technique to support you in achieving your goals is the concept of re-commitment. It is pretty much assured that something will come up that will throw you off track.
It can be helpful to expect this to happen and to give yourself the chance to re-commit to your goal. Don’t think of your goal as an all or nothing endeavor aka “I will do this perfectly or I won’t do it at all!”. Instead, realize that you can continually re-focus and adjust your course when you get off track.
Keeping a plan requires a great deal more consideration than making a plan, but the extra effort should be pay off in the long run. Good luck!
Which of these items would be most helpful to you as you work on your next goal? Were there any you hadn’t considered before? Any ideas that I missed? Leave a comment with your thoughts below!
Luann Combs says
Thanks, Alison. This is a great concept and I for sure am going to pay more attention to my energy drains. I just began working through the Career Unstuckinator and it is extremely helpful. Please don’t sell yourself short by just working with 20 and 30-somethings. You have your finger right on the pulse with us 50-somethings too! I have been a lifelong career changer (longest job is 5 years!) and I can tell you that your advice is better than What Color is My Parachute. I think I fall into the category of dismissing away the career I really would like to have. Time to get free! 🙂 Thanks for the great help! – Luann Combs, Kennewick, WA
Wow! Luann, I so appreciate you taking the time to write me that my work has been helpful to you! And thanks also for the comment on the age demographic my website targets. I’m currently planning a re-design of my website that will remove the references to young professionals. I do wind up working with people of all ages. Please shoot me an email if there’s anything else I can do to support you.