The Something Plan

Something is always better than nothing

Here are the rules of the Something Plan:

1. Just do Something.

2. Something is always better than Nothing.

3. Somethings always add up to Something More than you can imagine

I need a reboot of the Something Plan. I have written about it before, but like any good learning, it needs to be repeated. I have come off of a long fall of work and travel and have found that most of my healthy routines are a bit frayed around the edges. How do I get back on track—and do my work—and get ready for the holidays? It all seems like too big of a goal.

Like all good plans, the Something Plan was born in desperation after many years of failing at a more ambitious and noble plans. The kind of plans that are in self-help books and on the Internet. The kind of plans that seemed to work for everyone else who appeared to have more discipline and willpower than I did.  The something plan was initially created for exercise. I was a rower in college and a few years beyond and by the end I was training 6-8 hours a day. My warm up for a two-hour practice was a five mile run. My young athlete self was unaware of the precedent she was setting.

Flash forward 20 years or so and you find me working long hours, out of shape, and trying to fit in time to exercise. I only have maybe 20-30 minutes a day to exercise but since my old ‘warm up’ was five miles I continually decide that there’s ‘no point’ to only going 2 or 3. It should be noted that this is all in my head. With a wild animal chasing me I would be lucky to run even 2 or 3, but the comparisons in my head make it so that I stop bothering to do anything at all. Years go by. Not doing anything wasn’t helping me.

Enter the Something Plan.

Tired of feeling tired, and tired of never getting past “Day One” on any plan to get fit or healthy, I institute the Something Plan. The only rule is you have to do Something. And you have to do Something every day. Instead of complicated charts, the plan looks the same every day: Do Something.

Five minute walk. Something. 20 min walk/jog. Something. Stretching. Something. 30 minute bike ride. Something. Raking leaves. Something. Parking at the end of the parking lot and walking in. Something. As long as I did Something, I succeeded at my plan.

And as I did Something I repeated the Something Plan mantra: Something is always better than nothing. The mantra is the antidote to the ‘why bother’ voice. The mantra keeps you doing Something. The mantra keeps you from giving up because you aren’t doing ‘enough.’ The amazing thing about Somethings is they add up. And the more I did Something, the easier it was to keep doing Something. The Something plan for exercise has helped me back to doing a 5K and a mini-triathlon—and I am hoping it will again. And so whenever I fall off the exercise wagon, like I have recently,  I reinstitute the Something Plan.

The Something Plan is especially good for healing and recovery and anytime stress levels are high. Under stress or when we feel bad we often shift to hibernation mode. We avoid the activities that would actually help us feel better. And to make matters worse we usually beat ourselves up for not doing anything, or for not being able to do what we usually can do on our better days. This is especially true when we have put off our healthier behaviors for a few days or weeks. There’s some weird mental math that makes us think that we have to ‘catch up.’ That we have to do all the miles, or sit-ups or classes that we missed. And that’s too big, so we do nothing. Instead of Something.

This is when you need the Something Plan. Any time a task feels too big or you find yourself not getting started and you just keep saying “I should really do this…” Engage the Something Plan. I find the Something Plan really great for traveling, or times when commitments to other things make time scarce—like now at holiday time. Is there something that you are not doing because you can’t seem to do it ‘right’ or ‘enough?’ Exercise? Organization? Self-care? Eating more vegetables? Meeting new people? Writing? Give the Something Plan a try. Let me know how it goes.

© 2014 Gretchen L Schmelzer, PhD