Last week, we talked about the importance of setting physical goals. Let’s say you have a goal, and it’s reasonable (If not, take a minute and read last week’s blog post!). Now what?
The short answer is that you should start moving toward achieving your goal. But, let’s be honest, it’s pointless to start after a goal without a plan. It’s like setting out for Timbuktu, but not having a map. We all see how silly that would be, and yet, when it comes to our goals we do it all the time. We pick a physical goal and then we congratulate ourselves and say that we’ll start later. Or, we set out to achieve that goal and we haven’t mapped out how to get there, but we hope we’ll get there anyway.
If this sounds like you, stop! The first thing you need to do is make a plan of how to get to your goal. This is every bit as important as making the goal, and we need to see the planning part as an actual activity toward the achieving of the goal. So how do we make a plan?
We suggest that you do some “reverse engineering”, or “backward mapping.” Start with your end in mind and gradually work backward to where you are starting. If the end goal is to quit smoking, for instance, then the next to last step might be to be able to say “no” to a cigarette even in the situations that most strongly trigger a craving. If you can do that, then you have basically quit. But you aren’t going to be able to do that if you can’t go a full day without a cigarette, so somewhere on your map to quitting smoking, you are going to have to be able to go a full day without smoking. Continuing backward, to go a full day without smoking, then you must be able to go without a smoke between meals, and so on. Pretty soon, you’ll have traced back to where you are now.
It is critical that you put a timeframe on achieving your goal, otherwise, there is no accountability. Sticking with our example, if you want to be tobacco free in six months, then we know exactly what the end is six months from now. So, in your backward mapping, you should have a pretty good idea of where to be in the last week of the sixth month, at the beginning of the last month, at the halfway point, and so on.
Once you’ve done this mapping, you’ve got a program! We’ll leave you with one last thing. Make your first step one that you’ll actually take!