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Day 11: Make Plans for Obstacles

Obstacles Ahead

It is extremely important whenever we establish a new habit that we really think through all the seemingly minor details…especially the details that tend to hang us up in the end. We need to decide what the key factors are for our success and how, specifically, we can set ourselves up to overcome any obstacles that we may face.

So take a minute to think about the challenges and obstacles to exercising that you’ve faced in the last 10 days. What obstacles will you likely face in the future? People who plan for how they’re going to react to different obstacles tend to be able to meet their goals more successfully. For example, research shows that recovery from hip-replacement surgery depends in large part on having patients think through obstacles to their recovery and then make a specific plan for how they will deal with those obstacles.

It’s very painful to get up and move around after hip surgery, but recovery is generally much more successful if a patient actually gets up and walks around a lot. In this particular study, patients who had just undergone surgery were instructed to think about getting up and walking around afterward and then plan for the pain they would feel. So if their goal was to walk to the mailbox and back every day, they had the participants actually think, Okay, I’m going to get about halfway there and it’s going to hurt like heck and I’ll want to turn around.

And this is the key part: Patients wrote down what they were going to do when they got halfway there and it hurt like heck. These patients recovered faster—they started walking twice as fast and could get in and out of a chair by themselves three times faster than people who didn’t make a specific plan to deal with the pain.

A large meta-analysis of eighty-five studies found that when people make a specific plan for what they’d like to do or change, anticipating obstacles if possible, they do better than 74 percent of people who don’t make a specific plan for the same task. In other words, making a specific action plan dramatically increases the odds that you’ll follow through.

What obstacles can you predict and plan for?

HomeworkWhat To Do Today

Task #1: Outline your conditions for success and plan for obstacles using the “Make Plans for Obstacles” page in your workbook.

Task #2: Take your (very slightly) expanded exercise habit for another spin. Does it still feel super easy?

Task #3: Share some of your challenges–and your specific plans to overcome them on Facebook: https://goo.gl/Zj35ZD.