Nike’s famous just-do-it tag line is inspiring and has been unbelievably effective in marketing its brand. The problem with its simplistic message is that as with many things—including exercise and work—just doing something on the spur of the moment often means that it’s not sustainable and that you’re not getting the most out of it.
Doing something well, and creating long term good habits that have real impact, requires more than just doing it. It requires planning.
I’ve been told many times about the mental and emotional benefits of keeping a journal. Articles have been shared with me about it, and I’ve never doubted that my life could be improved by keeping one. I’ve even started one before—but never continued with it.
However, recently I took the extra step of not only writing a new entry, but then writing down when I’d write my next one. And I made a plan that every time I write one, I’d schedule when I’d write my next. So far I haven’t missed a single entry!
Relationship experts say it’s good for couples to plan date nights—otherwise, they’re not likely to happen. Those who do are three times more likely to be happy with their relationship than those who don’t.
New Year’s resolutions often fail because even with the best intentions—and a good first week of eating healthy, working out, or getting organized—you need a long term plan in place for how to keep it going. Otherwise, after just a week or so, you’re back to eating junk food, skipping the gym, and arriving unprepared to meetings.
Effective plans not only set you on a course to get something done, they also make you think about what you’re doing in advance. This helps prepare you for how to get the most out of the experience.
Entrepreneur coach Dixie Gillaspie writes that resolutions will fail if attempted without an actual plan to change behaviour. She says that you need to “get clear in your own mind why your life has to change. You create a plan for change, and you validate the viability of your plan. If you skip any of those steps, whatever you ‘just do,’ it just won’t be sustained long enough, repeated often enough, or executed well enough to create the change you resolved to make.”
The plan can be simple, but it must include goals, contingency plans, and recognizing the resources available. Gillaspie says that “using the ‘just do it’ mantra, when we haven’t done the work to identify the exact action required or to leverage adequate resources for getting it done, robs us of the ability to respond, which is what responsibility really is.”
I faced the kind of lack-of-planning challenge that Gillaspie speaks about when I was working with our CLAC Training Team on how to best market the many, ever-changing courses CLAC offers. I didn’t know enough about the courses we offered, how the team wanted to market them, and the scope of the various initiatives taken to date to raise awareness about what CLAC Training has to offer workers.
After some initial just-do-it missteps, I scheduled a weekly phone call with a director of the training team to chat about how my team could help his, review past and current projects, and discuss future plans. That simple planned phone call solved many challenges that came about because of my initial just-do-it approach.
Nike's famous slogan can inspire people to pursue their dreams and overcome challenges. But it may not not be helpful in creating long-lasting, good habits. Just planning it might.