When I set a goal for myself, one of the first things I do is create my action plan. I list out all of the steps necessary to take me from where I am now to where I want to be and develop my list of “rules.”
For instance, when I decided that I wanted to get my nutrition coaching certification, I sat down with the course materials and outlined the steps I had to take to graduate within four months. I got out my handy dandy little planner (yes, I’m old-school and keep my schedule on a handwritten calendar) and wrote down what chapters I had to read daily and which exams I needed to take weekly to earn my certification within my desired length of time.
Then I came up with a set of rules that I felt would keep me on the right path. Rules like:
- Getting my studies done before I could watch any TV for the day
- Writing out notes in addition to highlighting them to better retain the information
- Not ever letting a lesson slide to the next day
While all of these guidelines are good in that they keep me moving forward, sometimes things get in the way. Work gets more hectic than you anticipated or you find out that you have to fly home because a family member is ill. It happens.
When things like this occur, I sometimes struggle because I’m afraid that if I don’t adhere to my rules 100%, I won’t complete the tasks necessary to ultimately reach my goal. And I don’t want to change the rules I’ve created for myself because I’ve put so much time and effort into them, they have to be good!
That said, I have learned repeatedly in my life that my plans have rarely played out like I imagined in my head. Time frames get moved, action steps get altered, and sometimes the entire plan gets chucked in the trash because it just isn’t working at all.
I’ve also learned that giving myself permission to change the rules has allowed me to ebb and flow with my life in a way that keeps me open to possibilities. It has allowed me to choose a new path that suddenly appears — like when I was offered the opportunity to move across the country and pursue a new career. Had I been rigid in my plan to remain in law enforcement and continue to work my way up, I would’ve never made the move. And you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
I guess my point is, while it’s okay to set up your path and decide the “rules” you want to live by to get wherever it is you want to go, don’t be so married to those rules that you miss out on unexpected opportunities. Give yourself permission to change them and, if necessary, change your entire route because sometimes the best things in life are those that are unplanned.
(Like this post? Subscribe before you go!)