Monday, February 1, 2010

Win in 2010: The Importance of a Plan B (and C and D)!

This is the fifth in a six part series called Win in 2010 designed to help readers stick to their goals and make the most out of the New Year.

The first month has gone well. You have stuck to your guns. You are doing it! You have lost 10 pounds already. The patches and the gum have been working and you finally feel like this time you might be able to stop smoking for good. You have already managed to sock away over $200 and you have paid more than the minimum on all of your credit cards. You are already and are well on your way towards meeting your savings and debt reduction goals.

Then IT happens…

You go home for your parents’ anniversary and you fall way off the wagon, eating all of that good food all weekend long. Your boss drives you up the wall with her impossible demands and you go outside to ‘get some air’ before you even realized it, you had smoked several of your old smoking buddies cigarettes. Your car breaks down and it cleans out your savings.

Frustration, disappointment and maybe even anger set in, and with it, the negative thoughts and self-talk.
“I blew it. I can’t believe all that food I ate. I have no willpower,” you say to yourself while you wait for your turn at the drive-thru window.
“Kicking nicotine is too hard. I can’t do this. What’s the point in even trying?” you think to yourself as you take a long drag off your cigarette.
“What was I thinking? I’ll never be able to save any money, what’s the use?” as you pull out your credit card to buy those shoes.

We fall off the wagon once, and many times, we don’t even think about trying to get back on. We let one slip-up, one mishap, one unexpected occurrence throw us off-course … and keep us off-course.

I used to have to start a diet on Monday morning. By Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest, I’d slip up. Maybe I ate a big cheeseburger for lunch or ate one of the homemade cupcakes my coworker had brought in. Whether it was a big or small slip-up, it was enough to knock me off course. And I would stay off course to that next and the whole cycle would start again.

I didn’t start having real success until I developed a Plan B – something I could do to get myself back on track immediately. Instead of waiting until another week, I started at that next meal. I ate something lighter for dinner. I added some extra time on the treadmill. My plan also included some more forgiving self-talk. “You made a mistake, it happens. The important thing is that I’m not going to quit. I will do this.” “Sure I messed up but I can’t fail unless I quit.”

Have a plan to get you back on course. What will you do to get yourself back on track? What will you say to yourself? Who can you call? What will you do differently? Take your most common obstacles and set-backs and plan for them.

You can’t plan for everything but just having a plan in place will help you more often than not. Remember, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

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