Posted on 31 July 2013

I’m pretty sure that we all have that nag hanging over our shoulders, that person, that voice, that ideal that keeps telling us that for some reason, we are not good enough, for some reason we need to make changes to how we live, eat, breath, act or think.  Just sitting there bitching away, ranting, gloating, demoralising, hating.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, we need to be told. We need to be driven to change for our own benefit. Our health and wellbeing sometimes requires change. Change that is going to be hard to make and change that hasn’t been inspired by our own desires. Sometimes, we just have to accept what’s being said, suck it up and make the decision to do what we’re being told.

This is change that has to be driven by extrinsic motivation – doing something only to specifically achieve an end goal or outcome. Think about your mum telling you to clean your room, you know it’s filthy, but seriously, why do you need to clean it, there are more exciting things to do, like sloth all over the lounge, because, that’s awesome right now. If you were intrinsically motivated, (doing something for the enjoyment of it and the strong desire for the outcome) you would have jumped on the vacuum, hung up your clothes and polished your mirror long before your mother would have even noticed you were on the lounge!

Don’t think though, that being extrinsically motivated means that making your change is going to be all hard slog and that you won’t learn to enjoy it along the way. With great planning, there can be many opportunities for you to seek reward and achievement throughout your process, even though you personally did not inspire your change, or dislike what it will take for you to change.

I’m talking PLANNNG. Not just spruiking and bragging that you will lose 20kg for your sisters best friends cousins wedding in 6 months time and then hating your fat disgusting loser self as you squeeze into your dress and mince your way out the front door the get to the Chapple. I’m talking planning like a boss, treating your goal as a project, taking ownership of that 20kg loss and knowing exactly how you’re going to achieve it.

I really don’t know what my husband does when he heads off to his big office with an awesome view each day, but I do know that he works his arse off to achieve multiple milestones over the course of a bigger project – several small wins before the far future dated final trophy.

So, what am I saying here – I don’t know what my husband does for a living? No. Well yes, but. Read it again... “he works his arse off to achieve several smaller goals as he works his way to the larger final goal”.

He does this through thorough planning; tangible, visible plans that lead to an outcome, with multiple smaller milestones and markers along the way. This assists him in maintaining accountability and gives a clear insight into the strengths and weaknesses of himself, his team and his plan. By planning clearly and concisely up front, he can also determine what resources are needed, what it will cost, what the impact will be on those directly and indirectly affected and if it is indeed achievable.

He’s a specialist in Project Management. He has big shiny qualifications with letters he can put after his name, and membership cards to elite well-suited associations that he could flash if he so desired. But my man is humble, and all he really wants to do is get the job done, on time and on budget so he can jump onto the next exciting challenge. So, even though his idea of health and fitness is watching endless hours of sport and eating the occasional piece of fruit, he holds a lot of knowledge that we can learn from and put into practice. And won’t he be horrified when I tell him!

The key point here is that a goal is not a plan, stating that you will lose 20kg is a goal, showing how you will lose 20kg is a plan. Remember how my unfit husband sets his plans and milestones for accountability, measurability and where needed, modification, he has to, otherwise there is no clear path of process and no chance for reward and satisfaction along what can be a very long path.

Reward and satisfaction; dopamine is a feel good chemical, it works on reward and motivation. Trust me; you will not produce enough dopamine to maintain enthusiasm for a goal that you set for 6 months away! You need to keep topping it up, so you can ride its high all the way to that 6 month mark. This is where milestones come in. Setting several smaller goals on the way to the ultimate one! Let’s workshop it:

GOAL:                      Lose 20kg in 6 months = 3.3kg a month = 825g a week - let’s say 1kg. This smaller weekly goal now becomes a milestone.

                                 You set regular milestones each week of a 1kg loss.

RESOURCES:         Exercise, nutrition, sleep, recovery

PLAN:                      Exercise:  3 days a week PT, 2 days a week HIIT cardio, 1 day a week LISS cardio

                                Nutrition:  pack lunch every day, eat breakfast every day, cut dessert to 2 days a week

                                Sleep:       aim for 7-9 hours nightly; keep a sleep diary to monitor quality

                                Recovery: 1 day a week no exercise, protein shake after resistance training

Now, don’t just say or think it – write it down! Make it as simple or elaborate as you want. Make it a chart, a timeline, a calendar or dedicate a diary to it. Then put it somewhere in clear sight and look at it daily! Mark off everything as you achieve it; from workouts to lunches to hours sleep, if its part of your plan, honour it, don’t ignore it! As you see each tick as you mark off your achievements you will get a sense of satisfaction, and a little more dopamine gets released to re-ignite your motivation.

Then, hold your weekly progress meeting. Check in and take your plan with you. Measure (weigh in) and you see if you hit your milestone. If you did, awesome, the plan is working. Continue as you are. If you missed it you need to find out why. Look back over your plan, look at your markers, did you hit each one, or did you miss some? Maybe the plan needs to be adjusted; maybe this plan won’t help you get in ‘on time or on budget’, maybe your resources need to be increased or replaced.

The only way you will honestly know for sure, is if you have that plan and those markers to keep referring back to. A quality plan will keep you accountable. A quality plan will give you clarity. Working that quality plan like a Project Manager will see you strutting into that wedding, head high, boobs up, butt tight, turning heads and knowing that you deserve to flaunt your very own brand of awesome baby!

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