When most of us think about planning for success, we think about to-do lists and task lists. What we often fail to plan for is our change in mindset and the natural ebb and flow of motivation and energy.
This podcast episode is about planning for those things so that you’re motivated enough to keep working through your to-do list and get the necessary tasks completed.
The goals associated with big decisions are often difficult to achieve. Taking the actions necessary to to achieve these goals requires stamina and resilience. If we plan our path so that we can build those things in – or make things a little easier for ourselves along the way – we’re more likely to succeed.
We can do this by:
- Minimising Decision Fatigue – The more decisions you make each day, the more tired your brain becomes. If you reduce the number of decisions you have to make, you conserve energy for the decisions that matter most. Planning reduces the number of “on-the-spot” decisions you have to make so you’re more likely to be at “full capacity” when those out-of-the-blue situations arise and you have to decide how to proceed.
- Shaping your environment so that it primes your mind to take the right actions. Everything around you has an impact on your thoughts. Deliberate and conscious shaping of your environment allows you to remove things that will take you off-track and add things that will keep you on-track. It also allows you to recognise when your environment is sapping your energy or derailing your progress.
When you first make a decision to do something, you’re full of hope, positive feelings and positive intentions. It feels absolutely possible to achieve the goal you’ve decided to achieve. What many of us fail to plan for is the fading of these feelings, the re-emergence of our old habits and the surfacing of our fears, doubts and insecurities. These feelings and the beliefs behind them can derail us quickly and cause us to make poor choices in our efforts to achieve the original goal. They can also cause us to prioritise the wrong things and take actions that ultimately lead us away from the goal we set out to achieve.
It is natural for motivation to wax and wane in the process of achieving a big goal. One of the things that causes motivation to wane is fatigue. When you’re tired, it’s hard to feel motivated. Most of us notice the signs of physical tiredness quite easily but we often fail to notice the signs of mental fatigue until it’s too late.
Decision fatigue is a form of mental tiredness. Every time you make a choice, you use a little bit of mental energy. The more decisions you make, the faster you use this energy and the more likely you are to experience decision fatigue.
Once decision fatigue sets in, your conscious mind ‘outsources’ decisions to the subconscious/ unconscious mind – where your habits reside. So if your goal requires you to break an old habit, you’re less likely to succeed in the face of decision fatigue.
When you plan, you’re able to make decisions while you feel alert and strong. Then, when it comes to taking the necessary actions, part of the thinking is already done. For example, if you’ve decided to eat healthily and you have a fridge full of food but you haven’t planned for how to use it, you’re less likely to stick to the healthy regime because every time you open the fridge, you have multiple decisions to make. If you have a plan, you open the fridge, take out the food you planned to eat for that meal and prepare it accordingly. It’s much easier and you spend less time questioning yourself or talking yourself out of the original decision.
(Decision fatigue is the subject of Episode 15 – release date 20 December)
Planning for Mistakes
When you’re in new territory or your goal involves breaking an old habit, there are likely to be setbacks along the way. It is a good idea to plan how you intend to handle those.
One of the most common mistakes we make in the pursuit of achieving our goals is that we label our mistakes as failures or see them as signs that we “can’t change”. Instead, it’s wise to prepare for how you intend to keep going in the face of mistakes. How do you plan to make the most of the learning opportunity? What does it show you about yourself, how you think and what keeps you going or stops you in your tracks? How can you use that information next time?
These moments give us incredibly valuable data and it’s worth using them wisely. More on this in Episode 14 – out next week.
Planning to use your network
“We become like the 5 people we spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn
When you’re doing big things, it’s worth having people by your side who believe in you and who are also doing big things. They can help you take the right actions, stay resilient when you experience set backs and keep you moving towards your goal.
Shape your Environment
Few of us realise the effect our surroundings have on our thinking. For a clear head, have a clear work space. If you find yourself unable to think clearly and focus on the task, change your environment to see if that unlocks something – head to a different room or different location or change something about the space you’re using – tidy up, move the furniture so things feel more spacious or more compact – any change that allows you to experience the space differently – and see what that does to your thinking.
You can also shape your environment by including helpful things and removing unhelpful things. For example, if you’re planning to eat more healthily, remove unhealthy foods and avoid buying those foods so you don’t have to keep fighting against yourself to stay away from them. If you’ve got goals you’re working towards, put visual reminders in your environment to keep you on track and motivated. When you stop noticing them, change them so you’re interested in looking at them again.
Learn about yourself
When you know yourself well you’re better able to plan your route to success. What are your core values? How do you feel rewarded? What makes you feel good? How do you experience enjoyment? What makes you feel stronger and more resilient?
Knowing the answers to these questions helps you plan a path towards your goal that will be easier and more enjoyable than the path you’d take without a plan.
One of the best ways to learn about yourself and prepare to achieve your big goals is to ask yourself some great questions. Click here for a list of questions to help get you started.
Join the Big Happy Life Facebook group here if you’d like help answering the questions or you’d like any tips or advice for achieving your big goals.