Motivation Articles

Plan Today, Succeed Tomorrow

4 Ways to Think Two Steps Ahead

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Athletes do it. Chess players do it. Novelists, successful scientists and even salespeople do it. These days, everyone who wants to make big things happen is planning ahead in order to succeed. What about you? When it comes to planning ahead to reach your goals, are you falling in line or falling behind?

Thinking ahead can help you achieve your goals and, even more importantly, bounce back faster when you’re met with unexpected failures or setbacks.
 
What can you do today to make sure your health and fitness goals are met tomorrow? Maybe you need to pack a lunch to avoid that daily fast food fix, stock your pantry with healthy snacks so you have something to munch on, make a new bedtime routine so you get all the shut-eye you need, or sleep in your workout clothes so you’ll have no excuse to miss a morning workout.
 
Thinking "two steps ahead" means utilizing the present to make it easier to achieve your goals in the future. What are you waiting for? Here’s how to do it now, before you waste a few more minutes or lose your motivation altogether.
 
Think about Your Actions
Take some time to envision yourself reaching your long-term goal, whether it's losing 40 pounds, running a 5K, or reducing your cholesterol. All of these big goals can (and should!) be broken down into specific behaviors that will increase your health and wellness. Losing 40 pounds may involve reducing and tracking your calories while also starting a consistent fitness program. Running a 5K starts with your first step, then requires a plan to slowly build endurance over several weeks. And reducing your cholesterol can happen when you make heart-smart food choices and increase your daily activity.
 
Taking it a step further, each of these action steps requires a plan or "mini goal" if you're going to achieve it.  Maybe you'll aim for a specific number of exercise minutes per week, servings of fruits and vegetables per day, or miles per month. Achieving these goals is easier when you start thinking ahead and formulating a process that fits into your schedule. When you spell out exactly what you’re working on, it will be so much easier to track progress toward your mini-goals and stay on course toward your bigger goals.
 
Head Off Potential Hurdles: Prepare Your Plan B
You’ve planned to exercise three times a week and you're sticking with your program really well. Your workout wardrobe is freshly laundered. You’ve commandeered a babysitter during your evening runs. Best of all, you've scheduled your exercise sessions like appointments in your calendar. You're doing great.
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About The Author

Megan Coatley Megan Coatley
Megan is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis from Western Michigan University. As a health and wellness coach, she combines her passion for nutrition and fitness with her professional talents to help others creative positive, lasting change and live healthier lives.

Member Comments

  • Great article. I saved it. - 7/4/2013 9:41:38 AM
  • KAYYAK1
    I have such trouble staying motivated. This article gave me some inspiration for a while at least. - 1/18/2013 12:04:09 PM
  • good mantra for me - commit and don't quit. - 1/17/2013 7:10:24 AM
  • I like the "Commit.... and Don't Quit" part. That has been my problem in the past. I gain, then lose and after I lose quit. I don't know why. Even the last major time I lost weight I had gotten 9 pounds away from my ultimate goal. Then I started working 2nd shift, eating crappy and stopped working out. Well I gained most of it back. But NOW.... I need to keep this in mind and make it my new mantra.... COMMIT, DON'T QUIT!!!!! Thanks!! ;o) - 9/9/2012 4:19:20 PM
  • Glad to hear from you TaxiKent from Galveston. Glad you picked up the book from a garage sale. Hope it gives you back more than you paid for it. - 9/1/2012 4:24:24 PM
  • Great timing. I have had some obstacles in my paths lately, and I have also found my motivation slipping a little. Thanks! - 8/30/2012 12:27:01 PM
  • This article is a really good one. I tend to be to hard on myself anytime I mess up on my diet or exercise, which leads to disappointment and discouragement. This article helped me realize it happens to the best of us! Very encouraging to not give up and keep doing your best. Thanks! - 8/28/2012 11:38:59 PM
  • LISACC55
    Hi Taxikent.
    I live in Friendswood.
    How are you - 8/28/2012 4:53:23 PM
  • Hi, I'm new and would like to correspond with anyone still living in order to keep me motivated. I'm new to spark. Found the book in a garage sale, no less.
    I'm taxikent in Galveston, TX. I haven't explored this site yet, but will. - 8/28/2012 4:44:10 PM
  • Writing goals consistently, and marking progress are a good practice. I do not do this as I should although I track, I never really mark progress. I will try this and hope to become more aware and proud of the steps I have taken,. - 8/28/2012 4:41:47 PM
  • My goals entail both losing 40lbs AND having the endurance to run a 5k! Im terrible at running, and would like to improve.

    It's easy for life to get in my way. Between work and school, I remain fairly busy. However, I do my best to get in my workouts, and avoid the unhealthy foods on campus and in my workplace. - 8/28/2012 2:40:07 PM
  • COACHMEGMABCBA
    So inspired by your comments, everyone - congrats on all your hard work! I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Behavior change does take time, but planning, breaking down barriers and reinforcing small gains will help you stay ahead of the curve! Best of luck in your continued success.

    Cheers,
    Coach Meg - 8/28/2012 2:00:00 PM
  • YES we can do this --- plan plan and more planning with accountabiltiy - 8/28/2012 1:13:29 PM
  • TEAGREEN7
    This is for the MsHealthy56: I am so proud of you! Congratulations on your achievements so far. Lifestyle change takes time and you are doing it. The best of luck to you and don't give up.
    Love the Spark People!! You are the place for real people. - 8/28/2012 8:15:18 AM
  • This was a wonderful article and especially important for me this morning. I was feeling hopeless and down today...with so far to go to lose the excess weight that I have been carrying for many years. But after reading the article I do realize that while I have not lost much weight in the past 7 months I have accomplished many things...I now eat healthy the majority of the time, rarely have anything from a fast food restaurant, buy organic when I can afford to and have been gluten free for almost 3 weeks resulting in improvement in my psoriasis and joint pain. I have cut my blood pressure medications in half just by improving the quality of my diet, I weigh daily and am no longer "afraid" of the scale, I realize I will have to be diligent about my weight when I reach maintenance and awareness everyday helps me address tiny issues before they become big issues, in fact this is the first time I have lost more than 10 lbs and have kept it off for months..a huge accomplishment in itself. I do log my food every day and and track my fitness ( an area where I will now use the goal setting techiniques described above to improve). Just the reminder that even successful atheletes, scientists etc. may have failed many times before they succeeded they did eventually succeed with effort. Thank you for brightening my day!! - 8/28/2012 7:43:38 AM

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