The saying “we don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan” holds particularly true when developing new habits.
Because habits are so deeply ingrained in our psyche, we have to CONSCIOUSLY plan to do something different, otherwise we will default to our ‘habitual’ behaviours – whether these are the behaviours we desire or not.
Planning will provide you with the leverage you need to make your habit change permanent and greatly increase your odds of success.
A key element of planning includes researching your habit and educating yourself on how best to execute it. In order to make a habit a habit, you need to practise it many times. You want to ensure you are doing it correctly from day one so you achieve optimum results.
Note, practise doesn’t make perfect, perfect practise makes perfect. For example, you could ‘practise’ your tennis serve for years but if your technique is poor, you will never hit many aces. Likewise, you can practice “hunt and peck” typing for years or decades and still be slow compared to someone who has been touch typing only a few months.
Therefore, do some research as to what would give you the best results. For example, if your habit is going to the gym – do some research as to the best exercises to do whilst at the gym and the correct way to do them based on what you want to achieve. You may need a gym instructor or personal trainer to show you how initially.
Or, if you want to progress in your career – research what skills the best people in your field have and practise these every day until they become a habit.
It is worthwhile to do this research first – afterall – if you’re going to spend time at the gym – you might as well use your time there effectively! Or if you’re going to learn a new skill, you might as well learn to do it correctly AND make sure it is one worth learning!
Good planning also includes thinking about the activities you will need to complete prior to completing your habit. For example, if your habit is to go the gym, you will need to allow time in the morning to find your exercise gear, shoes, take a drink bottle etc. If you do not make detailed plans you risk being unable to complete your habit due to poor organisation such as not being able to find your shoes. Not being able to find something may result in you running late and deciding there isn’t enough time to complete your habit before you need to leave for work. You need to allow some extra time either side of a habit so you can reintegrate back into your regular activities.
Make a list of the people and/or organisations who will help you reach your goals. You might enlist the help of an exercise buddy or personal trainer to help you form the habit of regular exercise.
Schedule some time to complete any preliminary actions. This is important. Unless you allocate the time now, you likely won’t do it and you’ll forget about it. When are you going to buy the exercise equipment or call the gym? If possible do it NOW, or otherwise schedule it in for a definite future time.
To ensure success, you need to ensure the change is well supported in your life and that your environment is supportive of your new habit change. This can include the people in your life as well as your physical environment. For example, if your new habit is to make 10 prospect calls first thing in the morning, you might have to close your office door to avoid interruptions, notify the receptionist you are unavailable for incoming calls for the next hour, have easy access to prospect records etc. Likewise if your goal is to eat healthy food, you would want to minimise or eliminate the quantity of junk food in your house and ensure there are plenty of healthy options. If you habit is time bound and must occur at a certain time or place, set yourself an alarm to remind you to do the habit.
Play over your new habit in your imagination and imagine going through your day, week or month with the new habit in place. Can you anticipate any obstacles that may interfere with your new habit change? What steps can you take to eliminate these? Ask other people if they can spot any flaws in your plan. Review and refine as necessary.
Now, go get started on your plan! Post a comment if this is you’re planning to plan