Do I really have to make goals + plans for a healthy lifestyle? Can't I just start?

Out of everything you have to do, is setting goals and making plans actually necessary to start making healthy changes? Trust me, it's not a waste of time. It's the only way to be successful and create a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Click to read the whole post and download the free planning checklist.

Think about your biggest life accomplishment. How did it feel to receive that award? To publish your book? To finalize your project? To purchase your home? To get that little league trophy... :)

Amazing, right? 

But how did you get there? You didn't just wake up one day and say "Today, I'm going to publish a book!"

And if you're saying that's how you wound up making your biggest accomplishment, you're lying. Either that or you don't realize everything that went into achieving your goal. 

What you did first was sit down with a goal: "I want to publish a book."

It's likely that after that initial goal, you made several other, smaller goals (what I call check-point goals). You probably sat down on different days and said "Today I need to write a chapter." Or, "This week I need to write a chapter."

You then start to write - you sit down, you know you need your computer, some scratch paper, some good music to get the creative juices flowing and maybe some snacks and water so you don't even have to get up to eat. You can just sit, focus and write. 

And so you do. You sit down and you carry out the plan to write a chapter in a day. 

You sit back at the end of the day, give a good smirk at that good 'ol computer screen and raise both of your hands in the air like you just came in first place in a marathon.

And you did - your marathon was your writing an entire chapter in one day - and you slayed.

You turn around to the imaginary people around you and thank them for their compliments and paparazzi, but say "no, really, it was nothing." Even though you're glowing with success, confidence and a well deserved feeling of accomplishment. And everyone can see it. 

Without realizing it, your past accomplishments are proving my point. If you want to actually accomplish some kind of healthy change, it is absolutely necessary that you make a realistic goal and create a practical plan. Somewhere inside, you already know how to accomplish your goals.

And if you'd like some guidelines, make sure to download the motivation + planning checklist so you can get started right away.

Come on, are goals + plans actually necessary?

Life without goals or plans kind of looks like that scene in Alice in Wonderland. You know, when Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire cat which path she should take. And of course the Cheshire Cat responds: "That depends a great deal on where you want to get to." Then Alice, because she's basically lost and confused the entire movie, says "I don't care much where." Cue the all wise Cheshire Cat: "Then it doesn't matter which way you go." 

The next two lines, that are quoted a little less frequently are these: Alice: "...so long as I get somewhere." Cheshire: "Oh you're sure to do that, as long as you walk far enough."

That may have been spoken by a Cheshire cat in a cartoon years ago, but that feline knew what he was talking about.

If you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn't matter what path you take. And yet, if you're walking down that path long enough - you'll end up somewhere. You might not like where you end up, but you'll end up somewhere. 

If you don't have a goal, it doesn’t matter what you eat, how you exercise – or even if you exercise at all. There’s nothing wrong with trying every fad diet out there if you don’t know where you want to end up. If you're yo-yo dieting and exercising once a month, or once every other month, that's totally fine if you don't have a clear set goal.

But be aware that without a goal, you might end up right back where you started, but with added frustration, disappointment and loss of hope. Maybe your experience ends up taking you on a roller coaster ride - losing 5 pounds, gaining 4... or going to the gym every day one week, and then not again for 3 weeks.. or getting super pumped, meal prepping and refusing to eat out.. and then binge eating ice cream in your closet after going out to eat for 10 meals in a row. 

Sure, without goals and plans, you'll end up somewhere, you just might not end up liking where you end up. And then it's likely you'll lose faith in your ability to accomplish anything related to a healthy lifestyle. And that should never be the case. 

Download the free motivation and planning checklist so you can set your goals and plans for a healthy lifestyle.

So you sit down and make a goal

So the first step, of course, is setting a goal. You sit down, take a realistic look at where you are and where you want to end up. You've found your motivation to make healthy changes, you know exactly what your why is, you know what your current habits are and you know what your goal is - whether it's losing 30 lbs, cooking 4 times a week, getting stronger, running a marathon, or whatever it is you've decided you want to accomplish. 

ahhhhh

You're done. You did it. Motivation: Check, Starting Point: Check, Goal: Check Check!

So you move onto the next thing on your to-do list, already having that sense of accomplishment for the day. You get in a quick workout, land a meeting with a huge client, get some laundry done and even have time to relax in the evening before you go to bed. Life is good. 

You wake up the next morning and have another productive day. In fact, your whole week is productive.

Your life picks up and you're super busy, running from one thing to another, having friends and family pull you in a million directions both with planned and unplanned events. You end up stuck in the middle of a few projects and your to-do list has become a joke because there are so many tasks on there - and they've been on your to-do list for a month. 

And just to top off your crazy, busy, falling behind life, you realize that even though I told you to set a goal, look where you are now - you haven't been to the gym, you're definitely not stronger, you've been eating out A LOT, and you haven't lost any weight.

Psh. What does Amanda know!?

So much for setting a goal... 

Ahem... before you blame me for not hitting your healthy goal.. and possibly for everything else that's going wrong in your life... did you ever make a plan? 

What good is a goal if you don't have a specific plan that will show you how to accomplish the goal? That's like knowing where you want to go when you meet the Cheshire Cat, but refusing to ask for directions and just wondering into every path and forest around you. 

Setting your healthy goal is a fantastic and necessary first step, but you're not going to see success without a plan. 

I got your back, yo. Click the button below to download the motivation and planning checklist so you can get started the right way.

Um, sounds like I only need a plan. The goal will come. 

Wrong. 

Wrong, wrong, wrong. 

You can't have a plan without a goal. That doesn't even make sense. What's your plan? 

Uh.. um... I'm just going to eat better.

Ok... what does that mean? What does it look like? 

I'm going to cut out sugar.

Ok.. all sugar? Are you going to check the label of every food, spice package and sauce you buy to make sure there's no added sugar? Because most of them have added sugar. (Don't believe me? Go read everything in your spice cupboard.) 

No.. I'm just going to limit my sweets. 

Ok, cool. For how long. 

I'm just going to see how long I can do it. 

Alright... do you even eat a lot of sweets right now? 

Ya I totally have a craving for ice cream every night and I'm a sucker for fresh basked goods. Mmmmm (falls into la-la land and imagines the looks, smell and taste of that sweet, sweet, baked goodness).

Me: Ok.. so are you going to make exceptions? What are you hoping to accomplish by depriving yourself of those heavenly baked goods and all sugar that gives you this goofy look on your face? Do you think you can really just cut it all out? 

Ya. I think so at least. I'm just going to try it. If it doesn't work, I'll try something else. I just want to lose some weight and see if I can do this. 

...seriously rolling my eyes and shaking my head...

This is pretty much the conversation I've had with several friends and family members. 

Don't get me wrong, I am so happy anytime someone tells me they're going to start taking action and actually do something about the healthy lifestyle they've been saying they want. But a random plan without a purpose or timeframe - isn't even a good plan. Without a goal, there's not even a realistic way to assign a time-frame or ending. And when do you know whether you've accomplished your goal? 

Oh wait.. you never set a goal.. so you could end up going along this "plan for healthy changes" for a year and not see results - well at least not results that you can really measure or be happy about. And let's be honest, you're not going to last that long. Because who goes an entire year without sugar if there's no specific purpose behind it? 

Goals allow your plans to have structure and purpose.

You make goals so you know how to make your plans and you make your plans so you can accomplish your goals. Stringing together random plans that don't even have anything to do with your starting point, preferences or capabilities will end up being failed plans - and will likely leave you discouraged and not wanting to set other goals or plans. Because hello - it didn't work before. 

Plans without goals are not ok - especially when you're planning for healthy lifestyle changes. Please don't fight me on this. Or at least hear me out. 

Put all this talk into action. Download the free checklist so you can set the right goals and make a realistic plan for your healthy changes. 

Don't let your life be a messy, chaotic kitchen

So let's recap - in terms of food. 

If you decide you want to make your grandma's chocolate cake from scratch, but don't have the recipe (you already know this isn't can't have a good turnout). You would never just grab a ton of random stuff from the kitchen, throw it into the oven and hope it comes out as the delicious chocolate cake you grew up looking forward to every time you went to grandma's house. 

This is exactly what happens if you set a goal without making a plan. You decide you want to make healthy changes and grab a ton of random stuff (food, exercise, etc.) and hope it leads you to accomplishing your goal. Sorry. But your healthy lifestyle will be just as gross and messy as grandma's cake when you threw a ton of random crap in the oven. 

On the other hand, if you randomly go through grandma's old recipe book and grab one out, you'll end up making something delicious. But when you pull that tray out of the oven, you realize that the carrot cake you just slaved over is great. It looks just like a carrot cake. It tastes just like grandma's carrot cake. But you hate carrot cake. And the only thing that actually sounds good is that chocolate cake that grandma would make just before you came over so you could eat it warm with a scoop of ice cream on top. **falls starry eyed into dream land**

Then comes the disappointment... in the first scenario, did you have a goal? Absolutely! But you had no plan and it turned out to be a big fat mess. In the second scenario, did you have a plan? Yup... but you hated the outcome even though you were successful. You realized it wasn't what you really wanted. 

Now, if you know ahead of time that you want grandma's chocolate cake and you get the recipe and all necessary ingredients, and then follow that recipe, you'll end up with grandma's delicious, piping hot cake with ice cream on top. Goal: Check. Plan: Check. Success: Check.

If you set a realistic goal for your healthy changes and couple that with a practical plan.. and then put it into place.. you're going to be successful. A healthy lifestyle isn't overwhelming when you break it down into a practical plan. And what's more? When you set those goals and make that plan, and then follow it, you'll actually see the real results you've been wanting all along. At that point, you'll set yourself up to sustain a healthy lifestyle - all the while doing it on your own terms. 

Now.. I say THAT is a success!

P.S. don't forget to put your plan into place

This should be obvious, but even with a practical goal and a well constructed plan, you won't form successful healthy habits without action.

I mean, duh, right? You have to actually do something before you have the healthy lifestyle you want.

All the goal setting and planning in the world can't be effective unless you actually take action and follow through on your plan. Once you've sat down to figure out your goals and plans, get to it! Start following your plan so you can create a sustainable healthy lifestyle you love!

And if you haven't yet, snag your free copy of the motivation and planning checklist so you can start making that actionable plan.