Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thinking Two Steps Ahead

Can you see it now?  How exactly does planning ahead nudge us forward?  Planning ahead, thinking ahead, can mean the difference in meeting our goals and in how we  recover from setbacks. Visualization.

Thinking ahead means taking the present, looking at where we are, picturing where we want to be, and then using that to plan the future. It only takes two steps to make a difference in how far we can go. Thinking two steps ahead  means utilizing the present to make it easier to achieve our goals in the future.

What time do you have to get up to walk around the block? How about walk around the block twice? What do you need to pack for lunch to avoid the fast food solution? What do you need to plan to have on hand for when the afternoon (or mid-morning) “I have to have a snack attack” hits? What do you have to do now to prepare for when you most need to rely on your motivation, which might be exactly when you are least likely to make that choice that will move you forward?

First, take a few minutes to think about your actions. Take some time to envision yourself reaching your personal long-term goal, whether it's losing 50 pounds, competing in a triathlon or lowering your cholesterol. All of these big goals can be broken down into specific behaviors that over time will increase your health and wellness. Now, when you take it a step further, each of these action steps requires another plan or mini-goal.  Achieving these goals is easier when you start thinking ahead and preparing a process that fits into your schedule. And, we all have very different schedules. When you spell-out exactly what you’re working on, it will be easier to track progress toward your mini-goals and stay on course toward your larger goal.

You’ll also need to prepare a Plan B. There will always be surprise hurdles, traps and unplanned events that can waylay  your best laid plans. You can either wait for them to derail you or you can plan how to tackle them in advance. As soon as you’ve identified your mini goals, the next thing to focus on is finding where there’s room for flexibility. Having a Plan B in place before you need it means you're thinking strategically and will be more likely to stay on track.

You can be sure that the road to wellness won’t always be smooth and straight. It’s definitely a corkscrew. This is why it’s important to make friends with failure. When you experience a succession of small setbacks or changes in course, the bright spot is that it helps you hone your skills in dealing with those issues that are outside of your control. And, that really is a big help on your road to success.

We all fail. Sometimes we do it in a big, public way, and sometimes it’s a private affair. But, if we’re smart, determined and resourceful, we don’t let it stop us. This is what we mean by treating setbacks as guides not brakes. 

It’s not the failures that define who we are, and when we use failure to move forward in a positive direction, they can certainly nudge us into the person we want to be.

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