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How to design the perfect plan for wellness & performance

It's a very compelling idea. A thought that runs through the mind of most ambitious people at some stage. 


Something along the lines of, ‘Once I'm in a position to design and execute the perfect plan and routine for wellness and performance, I'll be unstoppable. A force to be reckoned with. A powerhouse of energy, efficiency and enjoyment.


I will be happy.’


It’s an attitude that we experience a lot. People will say to us, 'if I'm going to make the effort to live a healthier life, I need to do it "properly"'. 


Or things like, 'When it comes to challenging myself to new habits, I'm all or nothing.' 'It's black and white for me'. 'Go big or go home.'


And let's be clear, we're not against setting the bar high when it comes to getting dramatic results with your wellness and performance. 


What we're most interested in though, is how to get the most dramatic, and also the most sustainable results.


And this is where the desire to do it 'perfectly' can be problematic. Summed up nicely in this recent article:



In healthy living terms, the limitations of the perfectionist approach manifest themselves in a few common ways.




A perception that the perfect exercise routine means hitting the gym 5 times a week, maximum effort, for 90-minutes each time. 


What actually happens is that if people feel they can't deliver on this, they don't do anything. No workouts because just a short workout here and there isn’t worth it, and limited day to day activity because if I’m not doing my workouts, what’s the point of even walking anywhere. 


Healthy eating


A notion that the perfect healthy eating routine means cutting out carbs, avoiding all alcohol, selecting only vegetarian options or religiously adhering to a 16 hour fasting period. 


The challenge with this approach can be that if circumstances dictate you have to compromise on your perfect routine for one day, or even for one meal or snack, you feel like you've failed. And this feeling of failure usually manifests itself in parking the whole idea of healthy eating for a while and just take whatever you can find wherever you are.




You might decide that your perfect sleep routine involves being asleep by 10.30pm every night, and up at 6.30am every morning. 


But what if this perfect plan is disrupted by a work trip? Or family circumstances like kids being awake in the night. Or there's something that you love to do that keeps you up beyond 10.30pm on some occasions. Your 'perfect' sleep routine is ruined and you conclude that it's better just to just stop striving and leave sleep to chance. Go about your day as it happens and see what's left for sleep. The problem here? Sleep is too important to leave to chance. You wouldn't be happy with a 'hope for the best' strategy for any other important area of life so don't risk it with the one thing that guarantees improved performance with everything you do. 


If you find yourself struggling with living up to perfection, there are two things to remember.


We've mentioned them before:


1. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good


2. Progress is perfection


So let's keep this simple, with a 2-step plan.


Adopt a new mindset for perfect


The simplest way to do this is to redefine and personalise your perfect. The perfect plan for you is the one that will:


  • Fit into your schedule for the coming week 

  • Move you closer to your specific, individual and compelling goals for healthy living 

  • Leave you feeling positive about what you've achieved at the end of the week  

How to design your perfect plan


  1. Find a quiet / calm place 

  2. Sit down with your schedule for the next 7-days (including work and personal commitments) 

  3. Be honest about what you can realistically achieve with your healthy habits / wellness & performance across this 7 day period 

  4. Write your realistic plans into your schedule 

  5. Make a note in your schedule for a slot in 7-days time to review what happened and follow the same process for the next 7-days to come 

Elements you might be looking to include in your reality checked schedule could be opportunities for:



Both functional activity (walking, good posture) and formal workouts (gym, running, yoga class etc)


Healthy eating

Plan for as many meals / snacks as you can, take into consideration time to shop for / order online what you need for these meals and snacks, look for opportunities to eat well in restaurants / planes / on the move, get set up for hydration and forward plan any days on / off alcohol.



Consider where you will be for the coming week, what work commitments might affect your sleep routine, what family commitments are on the schedule, and are there any social engagements that you need to take account of.


Family time

Family time is important to everyone but usually requires some planning. Both to ensure it happens but also to ensure you can be mentally present as well as physically in the room. So when it comes to your perfect plan for family time, think quality as well as quantity as this might open up some creative options for you.


Me time / hobbies

Similar to family time, most people crave a little more down time each week but this is definitely an area that benefits from being more intentional. And also maybe starting small and leveraging this over time. So that even if your perfect plan for me time is 1-hour a day, and you may not be able to manipulate this right away, in time this could become a reality. 


Evolve the new normal for perfect with regular review and refinement


Considering all of the above, and then reviewing and refining the process regularly provides you with a solid understanding of your realistic expectations, and a way to evolve and build on what's achievable over time. 


This means you will always be on track, you will always feel positive that you're taking action, and you'll be in a strong position to gently change the balance of each week if you'd like to increase the depth or speed of your progress without compromising any other areas of life along the way. 



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