Make a Plan

“If you raise your standards but don’t really believe you can meet them, you’ve already sabotaged yourself. You won’t even try; you’ll be lacking the sense of certainty that allows you to tap the deepest capacity that’s within you… Our beliefs are like unquestioned commands, telling us how things are, what’s possible and impossible and what we can and cannot do. They shape every action, every thought, and every feeling that we experience. As a result, changing our belief systems is central to making any real and lasting change in our lives.”

~ Anthony Robbins

Since Plan A eludes most of us, here is the unique system I came up with to create a Plan B:

1- Start by making a long-range goal. Set a huge/monumental goal. Break it up into a few smaller chunks, and then come up with some baby step goals to get the momentum going. With each one, make sure to follow the S.M.A.R.T. formula:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Actionable

R – Realistic

T – Time bound

2- Write down several different rewards and prizes, to motivate yourself with. This is my secret weapon – truly my secret to success. Give yourself little rewards for any amount of progress you make; one prize for every step towards your goal. IMPORTANT: This will only work if you are disciplined enough to never give yourself the incentive without completing each designated action item first.

3- Follow through. Each time you’re able to check something off, make sure to give yourself the predetermined reward. Here are some examples: a nap, a candy bar, an afternoon in the mountains, a gourmet hamburger, a movie, or 30 minutes of reading a good book.

When you reach a significant milestone or a medium goal, reward yourself with something bigger like a two-hour massage, a new game system, or a weekend getaway.

When you conquer your big/monumental/huge/audacious goal – it’s important that your reward is proportional to your efforts. Only you know what will motivate you to begin and continue to move forward until your goal becomes reality. When you’ve taken action and realized the thing you’ve set out to accomplish, reward yourself with something amazing! Do something that you’ve wanted to do for a very long time or save up and buy something special for your prize.

The fact that you’re reading this blog is proof that this system really works. For a long time I had several thoughts and ideas swimming around in my head. It took so long to overcome the inertia and begin the writing process. I procrastinated compiling the tools and principles I’d acquired through the school of hard knocks. I would share things with friends, family and coaching clients but never disciplined myself enough to get things down on paper. I realized that without a plan, my content would never be written, published or read.

I separated concepts, started writing and decided which category to focus on first. Then I made a list of all the steps I would need to take to achieve my goal. I wrote a reward next to each step, as described above. Sometimes I ran into roadblocks and unexpected challenges, (that’s an understatement). I had to rework my plan and adjust the prizes that I planned to give myself for each accomplishment.

Many times, I would share my work with others for review, and it came back with several corrections and suggestions. I often disciplined myself to write before I would allow myself to cash a check, eat dinner, go to a movie or even go to bed. There was one especially busy week when five days went by before I earned going to get my favorite hamburger. After I achieved a medium milestone, I took a weekend trip, visited a spa and treated myself to a facial and a massage.

Don’t just check off a step towards your goal, stay on task and keep yourself motivated, by building in several little rewards along the way. Celebrate progress! You may become addicted to setting and achieving goals, but it will definitely be a healthy addiction.