What is Plan D habit change planning? It is contingency planning for your habit change issue. You brainstorm possible obstacles or likely hindrances that could stop you from succeeding with your specific habit change goal.
For example, let’s suppose you have decided to go to your local fitness club on a certain day of the week to work out. What if your car won’t start? What if the club is unexpectedly closed? What if the school calls and you have to go pick up your sick child at the exact time you had your workout scheduled?
Plan A—everything goes as planned
Plan A is everything going as planned and you do your planned habit for that day exactly as you had scheduled to do—in this example you would drive to the fitness center and workout exactly as planned.
Plan B—something goes wrong
What if your car won’t start? In Plan B (1) you could call your girlfriend down the street to drive you to the fitness center. In Plan B (2) you could exercise to a fitness DVD you have at home.
Plan C—more things go wrong
What if (B 1) your girlfriend isn’t home or unable to drive you to the club? What if (B 2) your DVD player doesn’t work for some reason? Plan C (1) could be that you decide to get your car fixed in whatever way you can and rearrange your schedule around to go to the gym later that same day. Plan C (2) could be that you get out your jump rope and exercise in the garage.
Plan D—Murphy’s Law day
What if (C 1) something else comes up and you can’t get to the gym later? What if (C 2) you can’t find your jump rope? Plan D might be to literally run around your house outside or Plan D might be to forget it for that day. If you give it an honest shot and try to cover all your bases, let it go. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilt, shame, self-condemnation or like a failure. Simply start again with your habit change endeavor the next day you have it scheduled.
As you are brainstorming your what-ifs for your contingency plans you will probably see several things that you can do to be proactive in preventing possible obstacles from occurring in the first place. Actively correct or make provisions for as many of these preventive measures as possible. Revise your contingency plans as necessary.
Plan D planning is for all your habit change endeavors
That example was for exercise habits. What about eating habits? What if your co-worker brings in your absolute favorite dessert to work to share with everyone? What will you do? What if you find yourself feeling very hungry and you’ve run out of your healthy snack stash? What if you find yourself in the worst fast food restaurant on the planet? What if you are in a very big hurry in the morning and need to have a quick breakfast?
For any habit change, brainstorm possible problems that may occur, especially areas where you know you’ve “made excuses” in the past. Now brainstorm possible contingency plans for each problem or obstacle you’ve come up with. Go down at least two levels of planning backup things for each original problem or obstacle (Plan B through Plan C). Plan D can be another backup or letting it go for that day.
Now for each backup plan, what preventative measures could be taken that are reasonable and doable? Do as many as possible and revise your contingency plans as needed.
In the comments below, share what contingency plans you’ve made that have proved helpful in making you succeed in some area of habit change.