What’s Your Secret?
I get this question very often. People see my results and want to know how I did it. They often assume that I followed some popular diet or gave up everything that I loved. None of that is the case. In fact, I don’t really have a secret per se.
If I were to define my “secret” is was simply data and project management!
Project management and data are a powerful combination. When you apply them to an important goal you can significantly improve your chances of accomplishing that goal.
I am not saying you can (or should) lose 100 pounds in under a year – I am not a weight loss consultant. I am saying that you can use the techniques I describe below to help you achieve any goal.
My Operation Melt Approach
Essentially I created my own approach to meet my goals. I decided that the only chance I had at being successful was to approach my journey my way.
- I was NOT follow somebody else’s plan or fad diet
- I was NOT going to consider surgery
- I was NOT giving up things I enjoyed (beer, bourbon, BBQ, etc.)
- I was NOT going through this alone, I leveraged social media for motivation, accountability and to help others
This meant building a plan based on things that I have trusted and relied on for years: project management and technology. This is how my Operation Melt Approach emerged.
I want to share a very brief summary of my Operation Melt approach to weight loss in order to provide some context on the basics. But I am not going to dive deep into the details because I want to keep things simple for now.
I share a detailed description of my approach and how to apply it to your journey in my book. Click here to learn more.
As a project manager and technologist by trade, I like to use frameworks. A framework is a basic structure on which a system or concept is built. A good example of a framework is the network of studs, concrete and such that make up the framing in your house. By themselves these things aren’t a house but they provide the structure for the house.
For my approach I adopted the core framework used for project management. This framework defines the core processes / phases in the lifecycle of a project.
Everything starts with initiation. This is the time when you decide that you are going to start a project, determine why it is important, define your goals and then make a commitment to the project.
In my fitness project, this is where I had my “moment” that drove the start of the project. Then I wrote down why it was important to me to be successful with the project. I also determined what my goals were and my limitations, those things I was not willing to do.
Once you had determined your goal and you have decided to commit to it, the next step is to build a plan. This is the focus of the planning phase. The goal of planning is to define a workable plan to achieve your goal based on the information known at the time.
In my fitness project this included determining the major activities that I would employ to achieve my goal, setting timelines and milestones and completing my personal fitness audit to determine my problem areas. This phase also included taking some partners such as my doctor and others as well as determining who is was going to tell about my journey.
The execution phase is when the work of the work is performed. This is where you actually start working your plan now that you have planned your work.
In my fitness project, this is the phase that produced the sweat! I needed to start eating in a way that aligned with my plan, but that didn’t mean giving anything up. I needed to start exercising in order to burn the calories I was taking in and some extra calories stored as fat. I needed to remove some of my key barriers (e.g. long work hours) and start talking to people about the journey.
None of the other phases matter if you don’t nail the executing phase!
Monitoring & Controlling
The monitoring & controlling phase is focused on measuring progress and results through every step of the journey. This is the phase where one of my favorite quotes comes into play, this is the quote that was the basis for my plan.
“if you can not measure it, you can not improve it” – Lord Kelvin
During this phase of my fitness project, I identified a small set of key performance indicators, or KPIs. These are metrics that I measured to indicate the progress I was making towards my goal. In fitness, there are nearly countless KPIs you can measure to give you an indication of your progress on a daily basis. The trick is measuring a small number of critical metrics or you are going to be spending all of your time measuring and less time working.
This was my favorite part of the approach and the part that most closely resonates with my strengths! This was also the phase where I got the most help from technology to attempt to automate as much of the process as I could.
Repeat Over and Over
You will notice that the planning, executing and monitoring & controlling phases appear in a recurring cycle. That is because you continue to iterate through these phases over and over until your project is done.
Every iteration is an opportunity to make progress towards your goal and to make small improvements. Essentially, each week is a chance to measure progress, produce a status report and implement process improvements. Then success builds on success like a snowball.
Every day and every week is also an opportunity to celebrate your successes and to learn from your setbacks.
There WILL BE MANY SETBACKS ALONG THE WAY!
The final phase of the project is the closing phase. When you reach the finish line based on the scope of the project or based on the timeline, you call your project done.
This is where you summarize the results, where you document your lessons learned along the way and decide what comes next. This may mean moving into “maintenance mode” where you just maintain your successes or you may kick off a second phase of the project. Moving onto a second phase is the most likely outcome because you learn lots of things along the way and will likely define additional goals you want to achieve.
One important note, your commitment to fitness never ends. Just because you close your project doesn’t mean you are done with fitness! It is a lifelong commitment…
So, What’s My Secret?
Still want to know what the secret was to my success and my Operation Melt approach? I will summarize in 5 points:
- Decide & Commit. I made a decision to get healthy – everything starts with good choices
- Set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal. I set a goal and made it my priority
- Build a Plan. I audited myself to identify my problem areas and built a plan
- Measure Progress. I measured my behavior and progress every day
- Stay Focused. I kept focused and worked my butt off!
Want to know more?
I know that this summary is very high level and more of an appetizer than it is a full meal. Hopefully it has piqued your interest and my Operation Melt approach sounds like something that might work for you as you try to achieve your fitness or non-fitness goals.