Every morning I try to come up with a plan for the day. A plan, I’ve always believed, is what makes thing happen. I am good at making plans. I make plans for the day, for the week, and hopefully for the rest of my life. You probably think I am super organized, but of course I am not. I find myself starting over on the first day of every week, the first day of every month and of course the first day of every year.
I’m great at making plans. When I studied case management skills in school I learned how to make elaborate care plans. I would do my research and I would find the one hundred and one resources available to solve every problem. The trouble was that the plans were so elaborate that they were impossible to implement. I wondered why my plans didn’t work.
I think I may have found the answer. I brought a book home from the library called “The Arthritis Helpbook,” by Kate Lorig, R.N. and James F. Fries, M.D. This book is a handbook for dealing with the aches and pains associated arthritis, but it is more than that. If you don’t have arthritis per se you may be thinking that this book isn’t for you, but at the very least I want you to read the section on being your own self-manager. Managers learn how to make up plans of action that actually work. You have been managing things all of your life; so the concept shouldn’t be too foreign. The author points out that you need to determine your long term goals, figure the steps needed to accomplish those goals, make a plan of action, carry out your plan, check your results and make corrections as needed.
Too complicated? I think so. It finally dawned on me that the plan, like so many of my plans, was too complicated. I would only get half way through the plan before my eyes would start to glaze over. In other words I would fail before I even got started. Fortunately the authors thought of this and broke the list down into manageable increments. This system should work whether your plan is to exercise more, lose weight, or write a book.
Start small. Start by looking at today, and then tomorrow, and then the day after that. Ask yourself a few questions:
- What are you going to do today?
- How much are you going to do?
- When are you going to do it?
- How many times a week are you shooting for?
For example: If you are going to exercise, write down what you are going to do (walk). How much? (I will walk 1000 steps today). When are you going to do it? (I will walk right after breakfast). How many days will I do it this week? (I will walk 1/2 mile every day from Monday through Friday, and 1 mile on Saturday).
Keep track of your progress. Check your progress every day (keep a journal and write down anything that kept you from completing your assignment). Reevaluate daily, weekly, or whatever. If you aren’t meeting your expectations, rework them so that you can.
This actually made sense to me. Long term goals are important, but if you can’t make it through one day you will never achieve them. The idea is to keep it simple and plan one day at a time. It makes more sense than making a sweeping statement about exercising more, losing weight or writing a novel, don’t you think? The next time someone asks you what your PLAN for today is, you will be able to tell them. What do you think? Will this plan work for you?