If this title rings a bell, you may be familiar with the couch to 5k running plan. The idea is that even a relatively sedentary person can achieve the goal of running a 5k in a relatively short period of time (about 9 weeks).
The designers of the plan make no claim that you will be sprinting across the finish line, just that you will be able to run a 5k if you follow their plan, and suffer no unplanned setbacks. The plan has thousands of followers, and has spawned dozens of online support groups and runners clubs.
The question is, can you apply this approach to other goals? Can you go from the couch to a high quality life in two months? Just like following couch to 5k plan will put you on the path towards becoming a runner, following this high quality life plan will put you on the path living the life you want.
Here are the 9 steps to go from the couch to a high quality life:
1. Deciding what you want
The phrase “high quality life” is deliberately vague. The intention is that you fill in the details by defining what it is that you want to accomplish to measurably improve the quality of your life. Your goal can be related to your career, your family, your health, or any other area of your life that you believe, when improved, will make your life better.
“Existence is a strange bargain. Life owes us little; we owe it everything. The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose” – William Cowper
2. Setting your two month goal
Now that you know which area of your life you want to improve, it is time to set your two month goal. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. After all, the purpose of this is that you can accomplish something that many people would think is impossible in a few weeks, as long as you are motivated.
3. Let people know
Accountability is key. Don’t give yourself a reason to quietly back away from your goals. Clue in a few trusted friends and family members and ask them to give you encouragement, and to check in with you. You may not always love the accountability, but you will appreciate the support.
4. Commit to a minimum of an hour each day
At first, this may seem easy. Who wouldn’t be willing to commit an hour a day towards making a life change? Don’t be fooled. In the middle of a hectic day, giving an hour will be a struggle. That hour will mean telling people no, and restructuring your priorities. It will also mean that you have to miss out on things that are important to you.
5. Days 1 thru 7: Identify and get rid of the barriers to your success
Who or what has the potential to stand in the way of you achieving your 9 week goal? Be honest. The sad truth is, it is often well-meaning loved ones who can be the biggest barriers to reaching your goals. In addition to this, it is also the activities that you enjoy the most that are likely to keep you from doing what you need to do to accomplish your goals. In order to achieve your new high quality life, there may be people that you need to limit contact with, and habits or hobbies that you need to put on the back burner for the next few weeks.
6. Days 8-15: Write out your strategy
Yes, you really should take a week to do this. The reason for this is that you should be observing your life while you are creating your strategy. This will help you to create a strategy for change that you can actually make work for you. Remember that you want to challenge yourself to accomplish something important, but you don’t want to set yourself up for failure.
7. Days 16-45: Begin implementing your strategy
What you do doing these 4 weeks depends on whether or not your strategy is iterative or if it is ongoing. For example, if your strategy is iterative, you will be performing the same task over and over again. Then, as you do so, you will become better and better at that task. You might implement an iterative strategy, for example, if you are trying to become a better writer. You could begin implementing your strategy by committing to write 30 minutes each day with a goal of simply getting words down on paper. Then, each day you increase the length of time that you write and hold yourself to higher standards of quality.
If you are implementing an ongoing strategy, you are going to be incorporating new actions and behaviors. Let’s say that your goal is to spend more quality time with your loved ones. You might begin with giving up 30 minutes of time watching television each day to spend time with your family, then you might add on to that by spending an hour each week writing emails to long distance relatives.
In either case, you want to start with the easiest to implement or least time consuming changes first. Then, you will increase intensity, or add new actions.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent” – Calvin Coolidge
8. Days 46-53: Maintain, evaluate and adjust
After you have been working towards your goal for about four weeks, take some time to look back. First, congratulate yourself on what you have accomplished! Then, consider what has gone really well, and what hasn’t gone as well as you would like. Use this knowledge to make any adjustments to your strategy. For the remainder of these 7 days, keep up with what you have already been doing.
9. Days 54-63: Make the biggest changes
At this point, the changes you have already made should be habit. Spend the last days implementing the biggest changes or making the biggest efforts that you can. When you are finished with your 9 week journey, you will be amazed at what you have accomplished.