Question:Are you a planner and do you align to your goals each and every week? Do you take action steps to make your dreams a reality week in week out? And reward yourself each week when you succeed?
This is something we do every week and we’re here to tell you something: Whether you’re a regular planner or a total newbie, a weekly planning ritual can make the difference between success and failure.
Researchers call it the implementation intention. It’s basically a plan you set out for yourself about when and where to act. Used weekly, this intention acts as a cue to complete a task that will ultimately bring you closer to your goals.
What’s more, having a plan for the week ahead keeps you focused on your priorities and makes them seem more attainable. It also gives you time to reflect, reassess, and adjust your approach if necessary and is a great way to see how much you’ve progressed.
Here’s the bottom line: Goals can seem scary and intimidating when you first set them but by working on them weekly you can chunk them down into bitesize pieces. It’s like a compound effect. You’re improving little by little and moving closer to your goals week by week.
Want to know how it’s done? Great! We have you covered…
HOW TO PLAN FOR THE WEEK AHEAD:
Align to your long and short term goals
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step according to the popular Chinese proverb and that’s true of your goal setting journey too. Instead of darting off in different directions, you need to stay on the path that moves you toward your goals.
Ask yourself this: what is the next step I need to take to get closer to my long and short term goals? It could be something really simple like creating an online dating profile, conducting research on your business idea or ordering a new personal development book. Whatever steps you take, they should be aligned to your end goals and move you closer toward them.
Success author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield uses the rule of five. He suggests coming up with five specific actions steps you can take toward your goal and making sure to implement them throughout the week. Like Jack, consider writing a list of aligned weekly steps you can take now. “The cumulative effect of these steps can be profound,” he says. “Small action steps are manageable and achieving them daily keeps you motivated and your momentum strong.”
Use Implementation Intention
Remember this little phrase from earlier? You’re about to get reacquainted. You are more likely to follow through on your intentions if you schedule a time to complete your task and/or designate a place to do it. This simple trick is habit-forming 101 according to self-improvement author James Clear.
In his book Atomic Habits, he writes, “Hundreds of studies have shown that implementation intentions are effective for sticking to our goals, whether it’s writing down the exact time and date of when you will get a flu shot or recording the time of your colonoscopy appointment. They increase the odds that people will stick with habits like recycling, studying, going to sleep early, and stopping smoking.”
Better yet, the formula is simple and outlined in the explainer pages of your copy of The Head Plan. Want to hit the gym three times this week? Jot down “On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week I will work out at the gym.”
Want to find a management course that’s right for you? Easy. Write something like “I will research management courses at 7pm on Wednesday evening.”
Congratulations! You’ve just made it a zillion times easier to achieve your goals.
We aren’t talking about acing a test or knowing it all. Nope, SMART is a scientifically proven goal-setting method. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed.
It involves getting crystal clear on the who, what, where, when and why of your goals (specific), ensuring it’s something you can easily track (measurable), involves something that is possible for you (attainable), is aligned with what you truly want (relevant) and has a deadline (timed).
When setting your weekly goals, use SMART as a checklist and ensure you meet each of the criteria. Is each goal specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timed? Great – you’ve got science on your side!
Have you ever set a goal and felt really excited to achieve it only to have your motivation peter out soon after? Enter: weekly rewards.
Rewards are like the cherry on top that keeps you motivated along the way. They offer an incentive to keep going on, strengthen your motivation, and help you to recognise your progress and achievements.
It could be kicking back with your favourite show at the end of a productive week, treating yourself to a tasty lunch, or booking in for a massage. Whatever you choose to reward yourself with, jot it down in The Head Plan at the start of the week – and make sure it’s something that excites you.
Science says this simple process makes you more likely to stay the course and achieve what you set out to. So go on, reward the small wins. You deserve it.
Your best week ever…
And now it’s time to start the process of planning your week. Pick a planning day that works for you - we usually plan on a Sunday for the week ahead but it can be any day! It all starts with a weekly plan that sets you up for success. The pen is in your hands.
What to find out more? Check out our video content to accompany this article now on the app.