It is the first of January and like many others, you have (probably) purchased your 2019 diary and mapped out a half-hearted plan for the next year of your life. You have told yourself certain people are being left behind, whilst others will get your full attention. You have planned to join the gym and created a workout plan for each day. You have planned to take your lactose intolerance seriously and cease the consumption of dairy. You have planned to manage your time and money effectively. You have planned to start your side ventures or tune your CV, so you can get your new job.
You have planned. Now, will you do?
If there is anything I have learned from “Planning” each new year as it approaches, it is that plans are usually insufficient without the diligence to turn them into action. You know it and I know it, we all have heard it before. So why is it so difficult? Why is it that each year, you make plans but often they do not come into fruition? Here are three reasons.
1. You lack DILIGENCE.
To be diligent is to be effortful, consistent, meticulous and persistent with the tasks one sets to achieve. It is to pursue AND complete a task regardless of circumstances. Look at your track record of work and ask yourself if you have a habit of leaving things undone. If so, make the effort to leave that habit behind and create a new one.
Diligence is not a trait you can develop in an instant, it comes as a result of consistently making the right decisions daily. You can cultivate diligence by setting three routine tasks each day for three weeks and sticking to them. An example, your routine task could be:
- Wake up at 6:00 am and head to the gym.
- No social media during work hours.
- When you get home, stretch in silence for 10 minutes.
Diligence is forceful and habitual, so when you do not “FEEL” like it, that is when you GET UP AND GO! To succumb to your “feelings” is to embrace disappointment. What you feel, is your body and mind’s attempt to draw you back into the cycle of laziness and complacence. Resist the temptation to succumb to your feelings and it will flee from you.
2. You are often DISTRACTED.
Intertwined with laziness and lack of diligence is distraction. Distraction is the vehicle by which the idle are driven to destruction. We all get distracted. Some by the non-existent food in the fridge, or that gorgeous dress which wasn’t part of the budget, the entertainment on social media etc.
Distractions are everywhere and purposefully place by our minds in order to deviate us from the path we are supposed to take. Mindfulness and meditation can be employed to help focus and center yourself when you find your mind wandering.
An exercise my life coach taught me is to sit still and picture my entire body. Then imagine my lower torso is the stem of a large tree and my feet and toes are as roots, growing deeper and deeper into the soil. The roots should continue to grow till they reach the center of the earth. When this is done, I return to my task.
If you sit at a desk all day, take a break after 30-40 minutes. We see these signs telling us to in our offices, yet we never adhere to them. Go for a 5-10 walk, either outside or in the canteen. Rest your eyes and your brain, then return. Why stare blankly for an hour, when you could realign your mind in 10 minutes and continue to be more productive.
3. You have set UNREALISTIC GOALS.
Whilst I believe nothing is beyond our own personal reach, we must be weary of being unrealistic with the timeline of our goals.
For example, your goal might be to save £500 monthly. Your monthly income is £1500 a month, your rent is £650, travel is £150. Your monthly food shopping is £100, you have credit card debts and overdraft you need to pay off. It is safe to say the savings target is unrealistic, because your expenses are too high. Perhaps bring it down to £150-200 and focus on getting rid of those debts first. Once the debts have been cleared, feel free to increase your monthly savings target.
Don’t set yourself possible tasks in impossible timeframes. The only result is an overwhelming sense of failure. Ask others for help if unsure, just do not be in a rush to carry out tasks that require careful planning. If you have made a plan and find yourself constantly having to shift deadlines, you have not planned your time effectively.
Now, you might feel a little dragged by this post, but it is for your own good. Acting on your plan doesn't have to be a headache. Read this post when You'll be incredibly pleased when the first quarter of your year is off to a great start!
Do you observe the traits mentioned above in yourself? If so, how do you combat it? Join us in the conversation using #NewYearNewPlan
--Teju is a Psychology Graduate turned Risk Consultant at the Big Four. You can connect with her on twitter @okantitun