Why Having a Plan is the Key to Success

Have you ever felt like you train the right way and your nutrition is on point but you're not getting the results you want?

Or maybe you want to commit to a healthier lifestyle but you can’t seem to fit it into your schedule? You’re not alone. According to one survey, 42% of Americans say they don’t have the time to exercise frequently and 35% lack motivation. Also, they often skip planned workouts because they’re too tired or they have too much work to do.

tired man sitting on pier

So, a lot of us can't get to the gym in the first place, and many of us who do don't see the results we want anyway. What gives? 

There's a good chance that if this sounds like you, what's hindering you is that you don't have a plan.

When you have a concrete plan, you’re able to clarify your steps, focus your energy, and use your time and resources wisely. More importantly, you increase your productivity, track measurable steps, and vastly increase the odds of achieving your goals.

To help you understand better, here are five reasons why having a plan is the key to success.  

Why Having a Plan Helps You Achieve Your Goals Faster

1. It Forces You to Get Specific

A written plan helps determine your goals, your reasons and motivations, and the actions you have to take to achieve these. It guides you to precisely identify who will be involved, what resources you’ll need, how long you’ll do the work, and what roadblocks you may encounter.  

man journaling

Understanding these elements aligns your efforts with the end goal, so you can focus and stay motivated throughout the process.

If you’re aiming for strength improvement, research what particular exercises to focus on, the reps and intervals, and how long you have to do them. From there, you can create a detailed plan where you can break your long-term goal into smaller action points with realistic deadlines.

And speaking of deadlines...

2. A Plan Will Give You a Timeline to Stick To

Having a timeline helps you effectively achieve your goals because you have target dates to work toward. This keeps you from being sidetracked, gives you a sense of urgency, and challenges you to work harder and stay accountable.

For example, if you want to run a 10K marathon that's coming up six months, start with 10-minute daily walks during the first week. The following week, you might aim to do 15-minute jogs for three days. The next week, do 20-minute nonstop jogging for four days, and so on.

Essentially, having a plan gives you a timeline to follow and helps you determine what you should do or have accomplished by when. To achieve your goals more quickly, avoid leaving them open-ended and instead, put yourself on a schedule.

3. It Makes It Easier to Measure Your Success

People become discouraged when they think they’re not improving even with the effort they’ve exerted. Sure, maybe you're not improving... but there's also a good chance that you're simply not properly measuring your success.

With a plan, you can monitor your progress and assess your performance. This keeps you focused and motivated to carry on and gives you a feeling of excitement that you’re getting closer to your goal.

When we say "measure," we mean it quite literally. Did you retest your mile run after a month of training? How much time did you shave off?

man running on trail

Are you able to do more push-ups consecutively than you could six weeks ago? By how many? 

In an effort to shed unwanted body fat, have you noticed along the way that your pants are fitting looser? It's time to measure your waist to see how many inches you've lost.

Measuring your actions and progress will show you how you’re doing over time. And with a plan, you can keep track of your activities and development so you remain driven to work on your goals.

4. It Exposes Points of Improvement

Planning helps identify your strengths. It also uncovers your weaknesses and points of improvement, so you can find ways to address these or use them to your advantage.

For example, if you learn that your weakness is committing to a program because you feel like you don't have enough time, then you should plan out your gym sessions in advance and work your daily schedule around it. This way, there are fewer chances of — and no excuses for — skipping it.


If you make a plan and notice that it doesn't include any cardio (something you hate), then you should revise it include designated (and measurable!) time on the rower or treadmill. 

Having a plan forces you to think ahead so that you can accommodate for weaknesses and further work on strengths.

5. It Sets and Keeps Priorities in Place

Understandably, people, responsibilities, work, social obligations, and your own personal reasons can get you off track. But having a plan helps identify what’s important to you and reminds you what you put a value on. It helps you decide which opportunities are essential, what's worth your time, and what will get you closer to your goal.

For instance, you might be tempted to skip your workout because you’re not in the mood. However, going off how you feel is not always the best way to reach your goals. And when you have a plan, instead of making up different excuses, it’s easier for you to keep your priorities in check and effectively work on your goals, because you identified them well in advance.

Make Your Plans Today

If you have unfinished goals and always found a reason to delay, know that you can make these things happen. Whether it’s to consistently eat healthier or to compete in a marathon, having concrete plans will be your key to success. 

woman holding acai bowl

Take advantage of effective plans that will help determine your specific steps, give you a timeline to follow, and enable you to measure your progress. Maximize your planning efforts to pinpoint where you can improve and to identify what your priorities are.

When you have a plan, you’re one step closer to successfully accomplishing your goals, and doing so faster.