Setting yourself up for success – the importance of planning
Sometimes going with the flow, not having a plan, and just seeing what happens can be fun. It opens us up to flexibility and spontaneity. There are times, though, when seeing what happens can lead to anxiety, being caught off guard, and engaging in activities that are destructive or unhelpful. When moving through recovery, planning and strategizing for challenging situations can set you up for success, and give you an edge for when eating disorder thoughts pop up. Planning doesn’t mean over-thinking or worrying about how things will turn out. It means setting an intention for what you want to do and how you want to be in a situation, recognizing when obstacles present themselves so you can respond to them skillfully, and knowing what resources you have at your disposal. It’s more about being prepared than it is about being scared. Here are some tips on how to action-plan for the next time you’re heading into a challenging situation.
Set an intention: what is your goal? Be specific. Goals work best when they are SMART (Specific/Measurable/Attainable/Realistic/Timely). It can also be helpful to think about why this is important for you. What values are you living out through the pursuit of this goal?
What are some signs that you might be off track with your goal? This could be procrastination or delaying implementing a strategy, getting sucked into negative thinking, reason-giving, etc.
What could be your next best steps? Once you’ve recognized that you might be off track, what would be some strategies you could bring in that would pull you back to moving towards your goal? This is often where the idea of the “next best thing” can come in.
What resources and supports do you need to have available? Make sure these are realistic given your goal and your circumstances. You may need a journal, affirmation cards, someone for accountability, or value-based activities.
How will you know you’ve achieved your goal? Sometimes it’s a simple as having done it, but we also know we’ve achieved something when we can look back at how we got there and recognize the steps we took.
Making a plan and following it through is the best way to ensure that you reach your goal. There are many action-planning sheets available online that highlight each of the above ideas – take some time to find one that works for you!