So how does planning ahead nudge us forward? Think about a game of chess. Planning ahead, thinking ahead, can mean the difference in meeting your goals and in how you recover from setbacks. Thinking ahead means taking the present, looking at where you are, picturing where you want to be, and then using that to plan 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 the choice that will move you forward?
Take it as truth that the key to making things happen the way we envision them is in planning ahead and then visualizing what we want and how we will feel when we achieve it, and this means setting a number of mini-goals. Do one thing to get to the next. And, then on to the next.
Committing to a behavioral lifestyle change takes not only time, but ongoing effort. It works in both directions—you didn’t get where you are in one step, and you won’t get where you want to be in one step. But, step, by planned step, you’ll get there.
Think about your goal, think about your actions, make your plan—and then make it work. Just planning ahead all by itself will move you closer to those goals. And, then the job becomes to commit—not quit.