Action (Planning is Only the Start)


Road Trip! The destination for this week is “Action.” Planning or preparation is important but only by taking action will you move your life forward.

What actions have you been putting off because of fear? Move past the fear.

What actions would you be taking if there was absolutely no way you could fail?

For this week, make a list of actions you want to complete and finish the list; no excuses!

Let us know in the comments where you’ve gone and what you’ve discovered about yourself.

How to Turn Your Commitment to Change into Action


Last week I wrote about how you decide to make a change. Once you’ve acknowledged the need to change a behavior and have made a commitment, you need to move from planning to some action.

Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, destiny. —Alfred A. Montapert

When taking steps to bring about some desired change, you need to look at what has or has not worked for you in the past. You also need to be open to new ideas and be willing to change your course of action as you try new approaches. There is no right or wrong way to succeed in your goal; you need to discover through trial and error what works best for you.

One of the classic examples is losing weight. There are hundreds of diet and exercise plans and by combining these into a plan of action, there are likely millions of ways for someone to decrease their body weight to get to a comfortable number on the scale. Keep in mind that once you reach your goal, you also need to maintain the behavior. Maintaining your desired weight will likely require that you continue some or all of these activities for an extended period of time so you need to find options that are sustainable for you. For example, you might use a strict meal-plan system where all of the food is provided for you to drop some pounds. However, how likely is it that you’ll want to remain on that diet for the rest of your life? It probably wouldn’t be very enjoyable and would be expensive too.

For lasting change, consider the long-term maintenance of your desired behavior when creating a plan of action. Try to change your mindset to get to the root of the issue instead of using a quick fix that won’t last. There are two practices recommended by Prochaska that I pass along to coaching clients that can help bring about this mental shift; countering and environmental controls. Countering is replacing the undesired behavior with a healthy, more desirable one and environmental control means manipulating your setting or avoiding a location to prevent the behavior. Including either or both of these in your action plan will be helpful.

For example, let’s say you’re prone to snacking through the day. You can consciously replace that activity with another. For me, I started doing push-ups whenever I wanted a snack. This countering helped in two ways. I burned some extra calories and the activity usually made me forget the urge to snack. Over time, I began to crave physical activity when I was bored or restless and that has served me well. I also worked at a company that had a cafeteria that served cheap but gourmet quality meals. It was easy to overeat. I could have avoided the cafeteria but I would have also missed out on the social interactions that took place there. Instead, I simply started bringing my lunch. As everyone was in line getting their food, I’d eat my lunch. By the time they got to the table with the gourmet meal, I’d already be half done and fairly full. Once the conversation started, I was no longer tempted to get more food.

Once you have your steps in mind, I recommend the following:

  1. Write your plan down.
  2. Share your plan and goals with someone that will hold you accountable.
  3. Review your plan DAILY and note how you’ve done.
  4. Review your progress WEEKLY to see if your actions are working. If not, try something new.
  5. Finally, don’t give up. You’ll reach your goal over time.

There’s no single “magic bullet” that anyone can provide you to create the change you desire. All change has to come from within and you are the only person that can make it happen. Be strong, ask for help and stick with it. You’ll get there!

Photo credit: waynesutton12 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Deciding to Make a Change


Over the past week, I’ve had a number of friends commit to regaining their health by eating better or joining a gym. I applaud them!

Coaches help people get from point-A to point-B in their life but unless someone knows they want to make that trip, it’s a difficult road to travel. So, how do you decide that it’s time to change?

There are dozens of behavioral change models but I use Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change. The first three stages are: Pre-contemplation when an individual can’t see or accept a problem or behavior and they resist change, Contemplation where a person acknowledges that change needs to occur and Preparation where they begin planning to take action. My friends are all in this planning phase.

Until someone accepts that a change needs to take place, (they reach that contemplation phase) there’s little that anyone else can do for them. You can try to educate, lead by example and even beg and plead but, until they see that there’s a problem, they are more likely to think that you’re the problem. What is effective is being there for them and listening. As soon as you have a hint that they are beginning to take responsibility for their behavior and have recognized the issue, then you can help them start moving forward.

Once someone is contemplating a change, they need support. People often get stuck in “I will someday” and a list of excuses here. One of the most effective tools described by Prochaska is “emotional arousal.” Expose this person to as many different experiences as possible that will reinforce the positive nature of them changing their habits. One popular example is the TV show Biggest Loser. Personal opinions aside, the show can be a great motivator. Someone watching the show that doesn’t think they have a weight issue will see it in a different light than someone that has just come to terms with the fact that they could be a contestant. Seeing others succeed gives them the encouragement that they could do the same and this might be just enough energy to stop thinking and actually start making plans for themselves.

Once you’re ready to make that change, you start planning on how to make that happen. Options here are limitless and vary depending on the behavior you’re trying to modify. The important part of this phase is that you keep moving and don’t get stuck in a cycle of “almost ready.” This is where a coach or other professional can provide great value. To see results, you need to eventually be done planning and start acting.

If you’ve recently made some change in your life, what was it that made you decide you needed to act? Once you reached that point, how long was it before you began making preparations to do something about it?

Image courtesy of Surachai at

What if you had to lose a few inches to keep your job?


Getting in shape, improving your diet and regaining your health can be tough. Like any other change, you have to want it for it to happen.

Everyone goes through the same cycle: you first realize you need to make a change, you decide to make the change, you create a plan of action and then you get working on that plan. All too often, people simply never make it to that last step. The main culprit, often cloaked in “it’s too hard,” is really “I’m too scared.” People are afraid of failure not realizing that failure is a natural part of the process. It just takes some determination and grit to pick yourself back up and keep going. I often use the analogy of learning to ride a bike as a child. You fall a few times but you’re so excited to be learning to ride and you have such strong visions of riding off with your friends and having fun that you just keep getting back up; skinned legs and all. The process of weight-loss really isn’t any different but it often makes people shut down and give up hope.

Yesterday, I read an article about an Airforce Colonel that threw away his military career instead of losing two inches. Now, there may be more to the story, but this really struck me. To meet the minimum requirement, he had to drop his waist size by two inches. It varies by individual but, for me, that would have been about 12 pounds. I’m assuming the colonel knew the requirements and was likely aware of his upcoming fitness test. He couldn’t find it within himself to prepare and shed a few pounds? Was the choice to do so that threatening that he preferred to simply step down?

It’s scary but if you really want to take control of your life and create a healthy lifestyle then know that you can do it. Like learning to ride a bike, you just need to have a clear picture of your goal. Break it down to smaller goals if you have a long way to go. One technique I use with my coaching clients is called dialoguing. I walk them through the process of clearly visualizing their new, healthy self then we have a conversation that takes place six months in the future. We talk about how they got to their goal, how their life has changed and where they’re going next. I’ve seen this exercise completely change the mindset of people that just couldn’t quite get into full action mode. It gives them that vision they need to get back on the bike.

If you look in the mirror and feel like you need to make a change then move forward with the confidence knowing it’s completely within your power. If you really want it, it’s yours!

Photo credit: bark / / CC BY