Step 4: Creating a Plan (Part Two)
Welcome to the ninth blog in our series on Confidence and Success using Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT).
In the first blog for this step we looked at how to overcome the obstacles of believing creating a plan is too much effort, and that your plan must be perfect. Here, we look at the final two obstacles, not knowing how to write a plan and not being sure you want it enough.
Obstacle 3 “I don’t know how to write a plan” – and how to overcome it
As we had explained earlier a plan is simply a road map to your goals. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. However, some plans, like a business plan or a marketing plan, have a more formal structure. It is understandable that you may be delaying this particular step if you don’t have the knowledge.
If you lack skills or knowledge about creating, developing or writing a plan then the solution is to do something about that. In Step Two of this series (Fact Finding), we looked at various ways you can go about expanding your knowledge, and you can use those same tips here.
The actions you take should be in the best interest of your long term goal.
If, however, you are delaying or avoiding taking action to enhance your skills then you have hit an obstacle that is created by holding unhealthy beliefs.
We have found the common unhealthy beliefs about not knowing how to do something are about the following general themes:
I must be able to perform well or outstandingly all of the time
Others must treat me nicely, considerately or fairly at all times.
Life must be easy, comfortable and effortless
The above three general themes lead to specific off shoot beliefs such as the ones below:
I absolutely should know how to write a plan, the fact that I don’t proves I’m stupid
I must find it easy to learn how to write a plan, if not then I can’t bear it and proves that I’m stupid
I must not be judged as stupid if I ask for help about writing a plan, if I am then it proves that I’m a failure
Reality Check – The MUST
There’s nothing to prove that you MUST write a plan – there is no absolutist Law of Nature that states this. Gravity is an absolutist Law of Nature, where things MUST fall down. What we observe in reality on planet Earth is just that, what we actually observe.
Taking this idea forward do you observe that sometimes we:
- Don’t know how to do something
- Find things difficult or challenging
- Get judged negatively by others
If your answers are yes, then how does believing:
- I absolutely should know how to write a plan
- I must find it easy to learn how to write a plan
- I must not be judged as stupid if I ask for help about writing a plan
alter what can actually happen in reality? It doesn’t, because there is no Law of Nature that says these things must or must not happen to you. If you don’t know, you don’t know. That’s the reality in that moment and demanding that you must know will not alter that fact.
It is completely understandable that you’d want to know how to write a plan, equally it is understandable that you’d want to find learning easy. Additionally, most people would want to others treat them nicely and not judge them as stupid. All perfectly reasonable wishes and wants. Just because you want that it doesn’t follow that it MUST happen though. Your demand does not logically follow from your desire. What would be logical is to keep your wants and desires but take the demand out of them.
There are very few things that MUST happen in nature. Knowing something, finding learning easy and not being judged negatively by others are not them and therefore it doesn’t make sense to dogmatically insist on them.
It does not help to invest in the above demands. You do not get the returns that you want. What you get is anxiety and a tendency to delay or avoid the task at hand and getting the plan done. These demands are an obstacle to your overall goal.
Low Frustration Tolerance – LFT
Reality Check – LFT
Believing that you can’t bear it you learning how to write a plan was not easy is just not true. If you couldn’t bear it, you’d dire the moment you found this particular task difficult. You’ll be alive, breathing and talking despite the challenge.
Learning how to write a plan may be frustrating or difficult for you. Many people find learning new things tough. You may be one of them. Just because you may find it difficult it doesn’t make sense to believe it’s unbearable though. This is the bit that makes your belief unhealthy. Take this part out of your thinking and you will notice a positive change.
If you kept your low frustration tolerance belief, about learning to write a plan, up then there will be consequences. You will have negative thoughts about your ability to learn. You will, more likely than not, delay your learning or avoid it completely. You will get the physical symptoms of anxiety, muscular tension, rapid heart rate or even tension headache etc. You are unlikely to successfully complete this step and this will have an impact on whether you achieve your overall goal in a constructive way or not. Apart from these consequences, you will not help yourself to feel confident. Confidence builds from experience and healthy thinking.
Reality Check – Self Damning
You are far too complex to give yourself a global rating of ‘stupid’ or ‘failure’ if you do not find learning to write a plan easy or if you don’t know how to write a plan. This also applies to being negatively judged by others. No one is perfect. We all find some things more difficult than others and we all get judged negatively for various things by others. You do not become a total failure if someone judged as stupid if your plan wasn’t up their expectations. Your brain will still work, you memories don’t fail, your heart doesn’t fail and in reality very little fails about you. Therefore, you are not a failure.
The above failings i.e. knowing, finding things difficult and getting judged negatively do not translate into ‘and therefore you are a total failure or a stupid person’. This leap does not make sense at all. It is this leap into total self damning from a specific failing that is irrational and illogical.
If you want to remain unconfident then maintaining you self damning belief is the way to go. You would succeed at being unconfident. But your goal is success and confidence. How does damning yourself for not knowing, not finding learning easy or for being judged negatively help you succeed at completing this step and moving forward? Think about its consequences on:
- Your emotions
- Your thoughts about yourself and abilities
- Your behaviour
- Your goal
- Your success and confidence
What do you need to believe instead?
Obstacle 3 “I’m not sure I want it enough” – how to overcome it
Some people delay completing the task at hand because they are in two minds about whether they really want the goal or not.
To achieve your goal it does have to be something that you want and is in your best interest. You may want something that is not in your best interest of course. We’ve all been guilty of this particular issue at some point or another. For example, may still want to stay with someone even though it definitely not in their best interest.
If you are in two minds about whether to do something or not, then completing a Cost Benefit Analysis may clarify it for you. Cost Benefit Analysis involve weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of two options. The advantages and disadvantages for you as well as the advantages and disadvantages for another significant person/s in your life, are identified; both in the short as well as well as in the long term.
The following is a structured approach to thinking about whether you want to go ahead with your goal or not. It will help you become clearer. If you decide that you want to abandon your goal because you are not that into it, then good. At least you can now focus on other things or not.
If, however, you decide that you do want to carry on, then write your plan.
Tips for Creating a Plan
- Visualise your overall goal on a daily basis
- Recall the personal benefits of achieving your goal
- Challenge your unhealthy beliefs
- Recite your healthy beliefs and repeat them consistently and forcefully
- Complete your plan
- It doesn’t have to be perfect
- You don’t have to be perfect
- Accept that effort is necessary
- Accept that you won’t know certain things but do something about it
- Accept that you may not have all the skills but do something about it
- Accept uncertainty
- Accept the possibilities of failure and negative judgement
Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.