The fact that good-looking people make more money is truer for women than men, which is especially unfair, because it is very hard to not gain a million pounds when you're pregnant; I gained sixty. This column is about my two-month quest to lose that weight, and the importance of making a plan for any large and difficult goal.
I happen to have a book deal that is predicated on a grand speaking tour, and the speaking tour is predicated on me not being overweight, and the bookings need to start in September. If I can't line up speaking gigs, I can't promote my book, and if I don't promote my book, it won't sell and I won't get another contract. So losing weight became my number one job.
This is what my agent said three days after I delivered the baby: “I don't mean to be harsh, but you look terrible.”
This is what my husband said two days later: “The stress of you having to lose so much weight so quickly will kill us both. Give back the money you got for the book.”
I did what works best for me when I'm in trouble: I wrote lists and schedules. I wrote a schedule for two visits a day to the gym and lists for what I would do there each day. I wrote a schedule for the babysitter, who had to come to the gym with me because the baby is not on a bottle. (Yes, I got off the treadmill to breastfeed.) I wrote a list of food — what to carry with me each day, and when to go food shopping, because if I'm starving in front of a bakery with no food in my backpack I'll do the bakery. Finally, I scheduled the date I would go to my agent's office to show her that I lost the weight.
It worked. I lost twenty pounds just by delivering the baby. But I lost forty pounds in two months. People are shocked to see me, and they ask me how I did it. First I tell them that if you had to lose weight in order to earn a living, you'd be able to do it, too. I gained insight into ultra-thin Hollywood; not being able to work if you take too many bites of cookie gives you a lot of self-discipline.
But the bigger factor here is that I came up with a schedule and followed it. And I realized that I could do this for any goal, not just weight loss.
Many times we are scared that we won't meet our most important goals. Decision points cater this fear— they open the door to self-doubt and inaction. But meticulous scheduling up front, and a belief in your planning abilities will allow you to relax; tune out your worries and just follow the plan.
You can't take this advice for everything in life. But making an extremely detailed, well-thought-out schedule to support an ambitious plan, is a great way to ensure you meet your most important goals — the ones that will make or break your career.
Some of you will realize that your career really is stalling because your weight makes you look out of control. For most of you, though, weight loss will not be all that important. But you might have other goals that you worry you won't achieve, such as switching careers, going back to school, or growing your consulting business.
Make a commitment to yourself and to your most important goals by reserving time in your day and space in your head to meet your goals. Great ambitions are not met haphazardly, and many times are not met at all. You can increase your odds tremendously by planning meticulously.
My next step is finding good places to book my speaking tour. I had been worried that this would not work out. But now I feel more confident. I am making a plan, as detailed as I made for the weight loss. And I know if I execute the plan on a daily basis, I will end up with a speaking tour that I like.