Planning for Failure Makes You More Successful

change messages Jan 07, 2013

A big mistake we've probably all made in trying to change a behavior is that we make a plan.

A plan.  One plan.  Plan A.

Without backup plans B, C and D.

For instance:  I commit to exercising 4 times each week at the gym.  I'll go in the morning before work and alternate cardio and resistance training each time.

Sounds like a solid plan, right?

It is until it isn't.

What happens if I have to travel for work?  What if I oversleep?  What if I didn't get good sleep the night before and I'm too tired to go?  What if the weather's bad and I can't get there?  What if my child walks into the bedroom at 4:30 AM and vomits all over the floor?  What if there's a zombie apocalypse and it's too dangerous to go?

Often times the answer to all of these questions is the same:  "Well, it looks like I'm not going to get my workout in today. Bummer."  The reason this happens is we only have ONE PLAN in place for when all the stars are aligned and it's easy to do.  We haven't come up with a list of possible deal breakers and what we'll do when they happen. Because obstacles pop up....all the time!

If you truly want to be successful over the long run, take the following steps:

  1. Identify your new behavior
  2. Plan when, where and how you'll execute this behavior
  3. Make a list of obstacles or deal breakers you know you will encounter
  4. Create at least 2 other options (Plans B and C) for each obstacle

Let's go back to the workout example. Alternative plans to these obstacles include: YOU'RE TRAVELING

  • see if the hotel you'll be staying at has a gym and pack exercise clothes.
  • if there's no gym, bring an exercise DVD or do some body weight exercises in your room.
  • plan on going for a walk or run outside.


  • squeeze in a few minutes of exercise during your lunch break.
  • workout as soon as you get home from work.
  • workout after dinner.  Could you include family or friends?
  • move around as much as possible during the day - take the stairs, stand at your desk, do a few body weight exercises, go talk to people instead of calling or emailing.


  • make today your day off and choose another day this week to make it up.
  • do a lighter workout.  Maybe you just walk.


  • if you have your body and gravity is turned on, you're good to go.  Do some bodyweight exercises.
  • pop in a DVD or find a workout online.
  • exercise outside if possible.


  • running from zombies = the fastest you've ever run in your life = BEST. WORKOUT. EVER.

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