Tuesday, October 3, 2017

5 Tips to Improve Your Follow Through On Plans

"Actions prove who someone is, words just prove who they want to be." ~ Unknown

As I drove to work this morning, I felt like a mess. I have been going to bed late at night and then waking up in the morning with just enough time to shower and dress. The food choices have been less than ideal and I feel behind on what feels like everything. Have you ever felt like that?

If you have, then you know the sinking, and often depressing, feeling that comes with it. You know that if you can apply just enough energy to the problem, it would be fixed. Unfortunately, all you want to do is lounge, sleep, watch television, or do those things that are NOT on your list of priorities.

When I think about it, I know exactly what the problem is and it stems from a lack of follow through. If you look at my calendar, the plan is staring me in the face. If I were to only follow the system, schedule, and plan that I have worked so hard to create, I would be in a much better place.

It's not a lack of knowledge or planning that's the problem, it's simply that we're not doing what we know we should be doing. Maybe it's boring, difficult, painful, tiring, confusing, or simply not fun to do. Shoot, why cut the grass when we can watch a football game instead?

Please know that you are not alone. We all have those feelings, but some of us just let the feeling get the best of us more often than we should. For those that know me well, they could probably attest to the fact that I am a procrastinator and my follow through game is sorely lacking.

While we may suffer from a lack of follow through, it doesn't mean that we are destined to be this way for life. I would submit to you that you that we can turn things around if we really want to. Remember the last time you had to clean up your house in a hurry? Yeah, it was probably around the time an unexpected guest was on their way over, right?

If you can clean your house in 10 minutes or less when a highly respected individual is coming over, why is it so hard to do it any other time of the day? It comes down to motivation and discipline.

I know, how is that helpful? You ask. Well, we know that with the right motivation, we can do some pretty impressive things. However, it is discipline that will help you maintain the long term success of an action.

So, you can either give in to the fact that you lack follow through or you can make an effort to pull your life together. What will it be?

Oh, you've decided to keep on reading, huh? Good, that means you're ready to get things back under control. Below, I am providing five tips to improving our follow through.

Start Small

Anytime I want to get back in the gym, like right about now, I find this method works perfectly. Instead of jumping in head first and killing yourself in the gym, start small. Let me pause and say to you, this strategy is not limited to just fitness. No, it can apply to any and everything. Ok?

To begin, determine what you want to achieve in the gym. Maybe you want to walk for 30 minutes a day or lift weights for an hour. Whatever the goal, divide it by 4. So, in the case of a 30 minute walk, you would divide it by four and get 7 minutes and 30 seconds. If you want to lift weights for an hour, you would divide it by four and get 15 minutes.  

Now, we talk about strategy. Start by doing 7.5 minutes of walking or 15 minutes of weight training. Both of these are relatively easy to do because it doesn't take that much effort. For the first week, do 1/4 of the work for as many days as you plan to be in the gym. I would imagine this number would be somewhere between 3-5 days out of the week. 

On week two, we will increase it by 1/4. Now, we will be doing 15 minutes of cardio or 30 minutes of weight training. As the weeks go by, continue to increase it by 1/4 until you reach your desired level. 

The point of this exercise is to start small. It could be 1/5 or 1/6 of your goal, but if you start small enough, you will find it much easier to tackle. It is by doing that you help create a new habit. Additionally, should you find that you're missing workouts, that means you should go back a step until you are able to find your rhythm. Then, when you've corrected yourself, go back to where you were before. 

Remember, take your time. We are in pursuit of changing your life for the long-term. 

Reward Yourself

Making changes isn't always easy, but when you do follow through on your plans, reward yourself. Since we started our examples with the gym, let's continue for a little while longer. 

Let's assume that you just finished your workout. By now, you should feel exhilarated because you finished something that was on your list. Let's add to that amazing feeling by consuming a nutritious and flavorful protein drink. Pick a flavor that you enjoy and let it serve as an "atta boy" or "atta girl" for a job well done. 

Whatever you decide to use, just make sure it is sustainable and that it doesn't ruin your previous effort. An example would be consuming a large pepperoni pizza after a 15 minute walk on the treadmill. I guarantee you'll never be able to outrun a pizza if that's all you're doing. Let the reward be something that furthers your activity, not detract from it. 

Keep Track of Your Progress 

One way to encourage continued action is by seeing results. Be it in the gym or a weekly sales report, find a way to measure your progress and compare it to previous weeks. Are you noticing a difference? Even if it's small, take notice of the changes that you're making. By competing against yourself, you will find a level of fun and determination that will help maintain the activity.  

Forgive Yourself

While we probably have a long history of not following through on our plans, it is important to remember that we're not perfect. Something will happen, as it invariably does, but the secret is to quickly forgive yourself for the mishap and keep it moving. It's when we beat ourselves up over a fall that we tend to stay there longer than we should. When you fall, get back up as quickly as you can and just keep pressing forward. By creating a habit of taking action and building momentum, it will be harder to stop once you start. Unfortunately, if you stop for too long, that can become your new habit.

Hang With Eagles

Remember, you are who you hang around. If you want to change your habit of taking action, get around people who take action in their own lives. As you spend time with them, you will find yourself inspired to get off your duff and go do the very thing you know you should be doing.

"If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise." ~ Rupi Kaur

Questions for Discussion

In the comment section below, let's talk about your lack of follow through. Where are you struggling most? What have you tried? What worked well? What didn't? What are some of those things you want to get done, but haven't?

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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