Achieve Personal Empowerment Through Planning
One thing that my years of experience as a therapist, marriage counselor, and life coach has taught me, is that there is a season for all things. It is necessary to take a break and let yourself rest sometimes. Other times the most important work is that of growth, and self discovery. And yet other times, the most important thing you can do is take action.
But before any meaningful action can happen, there are a few things that need to come first.
As I discussed in a recent podcast, this time of year — late summer — is a natural opportunity to make important changes in your life. In that episode, I talked a lot about how to get clarity about what’s most important to you, through self awareness building, and tapping into your values. (Listen to “Why NOW is The Right Time To Makeover Your Life” for more on that subject).
This clarity is absolutely essential. You have to know where you want to go in order to hit your target. That requires knowing yourself, understanding your hidden obstacles, and being able to set meaningful goals. And that takes time. When you rush to action before achieving true clarity, that rarely ends well.
But believe it or not, even if you have clarity, solid goals and motivation for change, that’s not the whole answer. As you so well know, if you’ve ever had great intentions and then failed to achieve them, there is another, just as important piece of the self-actualization puzzle:
I know that doesn’t sound very exciting or glamorous, does it? Self discovery, for many people, is gratifying. It’s fun to have those “Aha!” moments, and get excited about creating a sparkling new reality. In comparison, the planning phase of change is much more humble.
But without planning, the most exciting, motivating plans spin and stall. In order for action to actually happen, clarity and direction must be combined with a solid plan.
Many people who relish the inspirational, exhilarating, self-discovery phase of change wrinkle their noses when I bring up the subject of planning. I get it. It can take some of the wind out of your sails to have to think about the details of the when’s, where’s and how’s. The planning component of growth is kind of like the accountant following the charismatic “idea guy” around with a calculator saying, “Uh, how exactly is this going to work?” Totally annoying.
And yet, answering THAT very question, “How is this going to work?” is precisely where the rubber meets the road when it comes to actualizing change in your life.
So, for example, if in your self-discovery process you connected with a core value around health that is making you feel inspired to lose some weight and get in shape, and you’ve worked out that you need to churn fewer calories than you consume, you might feel ready to take action.
But until you figure out exactly how many calories you need to consume and burn, and what you’re going to eat to achieve that, and when you can make it to the grocery store to buy the food to make the healthy recipes you’ve researched, and what days and times you can arrange to get to the gym, and when you’ll have time to count out twelve almonds into the little snack bags that you’ll take to work with you to stave off cravings…. it’s not going to happen.
Planning has broader applications than your personal goals too. Even your relationships with others can benefit enormously from planning. It’s one thing to say, “We need to work on our relationship” (with even the best of intentions) and another to plan fun dates, and figure out when the babysitter is available, or set boundaries around time for intimate connection with your partner. Without planning, your best intentions are just nice ideas.
It’s the same with everything: The most exciting, inspirational goals must be broken down into their most banal, uunexcitig components and then followed through on — day in, and day out — if you’re actually doing to get anywhere. And that requires planning.
So if you’re feeling ready to get back to work, and start moving forward again, start with your calendar. Creating a routine for yourself that has a time for you to do the most important things is the number one most powerful thing that you can do to get yourself back on track.
When you have a plan, every day, to take positive action… you will move forward.
Wishing you all the best on your journey of growth!