A Guide to Sticking with Your Plan

A Guide to Sticking with Your Plan
This is a scenario we’re all too familiar with: setting ambitious plans with the best of intentions, only to find ourselves veering off course sooner than we'd like to admit.

And it leaves us wondering, “Why can’t I stick to my plan?”

Falling short of sticking to our plans is a common struggle experienced by many.

Understanding the obstacles that commonly stand in our way is the first step towards overcoming them.

Here are some of the most common reasons why we struggle to stick to our plans:

    1. Lack of self-discipline. Consistency requires discipline. Without it, following through with plans becomes quite challenging.
    2. Unexpected hurdles. The inability to foresee and plan for potential roadblocks can derail plans.
    3. Mental health conditions. Issues like depression, anxiety, and ADHD can sometimes make it harder to focus and carry out plans.
    4. Poor time management. Not having an effective strategy to manage time can tend to blow up schedules.
    5. Lack of support. When you fail to involve others in your plans or not seek their support, the possibility is you will quickly lose motivation and focus.
    6. Difficulty adjusting plans. Inability to adapt to changes and evolving situations can end up stalling progress.





By pinpointing these challenges, we've researched some effective strategies to help you navigate and overcome them.


Tips to Stick to Your Plans


Temptation Bundling

According to Katie Milkman and colleagues, “temptation bundling” is a tactic that involves bundling an activity that you enjoy with a behaviour you’re trying to reinforce. 


Say, for instance, you love listening to audiobooks or podcasts and your plan is to start exercising more.


Combine the two: listen to an audiobook while exercising, for a more enjoyable workout and a higher likelihood to keep that exercise plan in place.



Implementation Intentions

Research by Peter Gollwitzer has accentuated the advantages of creating “implementation intentions.”


The idea is to create a specific if-then plan to automate your behaviour.


It’s about linking your actions to a specific cue.


For example, “If I finish my morning coffee, then I will start my 30-minute study session."


With this method, you’re improving your chances of sticking to the plan when the cue presents itself.



Reflective Journaling

Engage yourself in this method to foster a better understanding of your inner self while sharpening your focus.


By writing down your emotions, thoughts, and the motivations behind your goals, you reinforce your dedication.


This practice also equips you with foresight and resolve, enabling you to tackle challenges effectively.



Habit Stacking

In the book 'Atomic Habits,' author James Clear suggests that attaching a new habit to an existing one shows dramatic results in facilitating habits' adoption. 


Let's consider a common example of habit stacking, which involves two everyday activities: drinking coffee in the morning and maintaining a gratitude journal.


As your coffee brews, or while you're enjoying the coffee, take a few minutes to write in your gratitude journal.


This method makes sticking to new goals feel like part of the old routine.



Don’t Rely Solely on Self Discipline

Discipline, while essential, isn’t a one-stop solution for maintaining consistency. 


Much like a physical muscle, it can fatigue from overuse.


Instead, a more productive strategy is to align your most critical tasks with your peak energy periods.


For instance, if you're a morning person, and your mental alertness peaks from 8 AM to 12 PM,  it's wise to tackle tasks that require the most brain power during these hours.



Anticipate Setbacks

No road to success is pothole-free.


Anticipating hurdles is part of strategic planning.


If a demanding meeting is set for the morning (which might sap your energy) plan less intensive tasks for the afternoon.


By expecting and preparing for these potholes, you safeguard your ability to stick to plans, ensuring long-term effectiveness and minimising burnout.




Wrapping It Up

No guide can guarantee that you’ll 100% stick to your plan – because, well, you’re human.


But armed with these strategies, you up your chances significantly.


And by the way, if you need help with planning, check our wide range of functional planners.


Sticking to a plan isn’t about never faltering; it’s about having a toolbox to help you get back on track when you do falter.

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