We all start the year with the best intentions to make our lives that little bit healthier and happier, yet somehow mid January life always seems to take over again and we forget what our goals were or how we were going to work towards them.
When we create plans for the future, we’re often tricked into thinking that these plans will be fulfilled by a future version of you. This version of you is amazing. They’re driven. They’re well-rested. They’re motivated. And they will be the one to fulfill all of these brilliant plans you’re setting for them. The tricky part comes when we realise that ‘future us’, is actually just ‘present us’, and suddenly we feel much less able to put these plans into action.
There’s a neurological reason why we struggle with this. It’s because our brains use two separate parts to conceptualise our present selves and our future selves, which is what allows us to disconnect between our present selves creating the plans and not worrying because it’s our future selves that will have to fulfill them.
For example, how many times have you felt super motivated on a Sunday to make big plans for yourself starting Monday morning but then when Monday morning rolls around, you struggle to make those plans a reality, or stay consistent with them? That’s because you made the plans for ‘future you’ – the one with all the drive in the world, no obstacles or temptations, but when it comes to fulfilling them, ‘present you’ is dealing with all the same struggles you had when you made the plans.
Now, that’s not to say that planning ahead is a bad thing – the opposite in fact, but it’s important to be able to anticipate your brain’s habit of separating present you and future you in order to truly plan for success.
There are a few reasons why it can be hard to stick to changes you make in your life – you could be facing resistance, ironic rebound or what athlete and speaker, David Goggins calls the ‘quitting voice’ which is essentially ‘present us’ confronting the plans we made for ‘future us’ and wanting to simply pass it on to another version of ‘future us’.
All of these experiences are a matter of some variety of neurological responses to the fear of change but the best thing we can do to overcome them is to simply anticipate these obstacles and know how to create a plan of action with them in mind.
So, let’s make a plan for your 2022 success…
We’ve all heard ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ but when it comes to making sustainable changes to your lifestyle, the saying really is true. It might seem like a minor thing but creating a plan for ourselves not only helps us identify what we need to do but also why we’re doing it – and that’s a key thing for accountability.
Step 1: Designate some time to make your plan
Not when you’re sitting on the sofa half-watching TV. Set aside some real time to think clearly about what you want to achieve in 2022 and how you might get there.
Step 2: Pick 1 thing you’d like to change
You can’t change everything at once. To plan for success you need to be focused and not overwhelm yourself, so start by picking 1 thing that you’d like to change.
Step 3: Identify your triggers
Noticing what your triggers are will help you understand what to avoid or change in your current lifestyle so you can set yourself up for success. Perhaps it’s a time of day, a feeling, an event, or a place – when you have awareness about what triggers certain behaviours, you’re more equipped to deal with them.
Step 4: Anticipate the quitting voice
Changes aren’t always easy and you’ll probably experience the quitting voice piping up now and again to try and halt your progress. Anticipate this when making your plan and think about how to get around it.
Step 5: Create an actionable plan
You don’t want to overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything at once, so create a specific actionable plan to work towards your goal one step at a time.
What will you do?
When will you do it?
What tools or equipment might you need?
What do you need to put in place ahead of time to ensure you can execute the plan?
What support will you need?
Step 6: Create a reward
Our brains love rewards so think about how you can introduce rewards in your plan. Try this ‘When I do this instead of my old behaviour I will feel…’
Perhaps it’s proud, successful, in control, or like you’re the person you want to become. When we create a reward for these new behaviours are brains are much less likely to resist change.
Remember, ‘future you’, is actually just ‘present you’ so anticipate the quitting voice, remember your goals and embrace your plan!
Top tip: Take a picture of your plan so you’ve got a copy of it on your phone to look at whenever you’re facing a triggering situation, or you need a reminder of your goals.
If you think you might need support creating an actionable plan for success in 2022 then please do get in touch to find out how I could help. I offer a free consultation to all my clients, so book in for a chat!