Keeping The Creep At Bay. Tips for Avoiding Scope Creep.

Have you ever set a goal to get somewhere and ended up about 10 miles due west of the target? Welcome to my world. At least that’s how my world used to be, until I got a hold of The Creep and strangled him. I’m talking about Scope Creep, not that weird neighbor.

Scope Creep is one of those terms you hear and your eyes sort of gloss over and your mind goes on a mental vacation to Hawaii. Come on back here. No vacations yet. I promise I will explain it in a way you understand.

I’ve been setting these 30-Day Challenges for myself, well OK they’re really 28-day challenges b.c 28 days fits so much nicer on a calendar than 30 days, but you get the idea. Every 28 days I re-evaluate my health and wellness goals and set new goals for the next challenge. Usually these goals involve a daily step count, efforts at the gym, and a dietary focus and at the end I have a reward for successful completion (like new Asics. Can’t wait!). Hard work begets great reward and all that.

A portion of a challenge could look something like this:

Monday: 7000 steps, arm workout
Wednesday: 7000 steps, leg workout
Friday: 7000 steps, arm workout

For me with a sit-down job and a penchant for Hallmark Channel on Netflix over exercise, getting 7000 steps can be a challenge. So I work throughout the day to get as many steps as I can (it’s 120 steps to the copier and 980 around the block). The gym portion of my day is usually pretty simple and I’ve been successful at going first thing in the morning for several months now (longer than at any post-high school time in my life). I walk on the treadmill for 12 minutes with my hot tea in hand (a girl needs her caffeine) and then move on to weight training where I walk between sets (30 steps round trip around the bikes) and then finish with another 12 minutes or so on the treadmill. If I leave the gym with 3500 steps, I am well set to reach my daily step goal.

Here’s where The Creep comes in…  In the middle of one particular challenge, things were going well, I was on track to accomplish my goals, but my knack for impatience reared it’s fiery head. I began to wonder if I could get better results faster if I rode the bike instead of walking on the treadmill. But my challenge is for steps, not miles…. Hmm OK does my FitBit track steps while I pedal? What if I put it on my shoe? Yes, yes it does. Eureka! After that I began biking instead of walking. I was getting a better workout in some especially troubled areas, but my mind was consumed by the change. Was the  FitBit working? It seemed like it was only counting half my steps. And the bike hurt my neck and I can’t drink my tea without spilling it all over myself.  What if I try this upright bike… And so on and so on.

Until I realized I had created my own Scope Creep. Which means I had set a goal and in the middle of meeting it, I had veered left and now I was headed 10 miles west of the target. Darn that Creep!

When you set a goal and make a plan, You. Need. To. Stick. To. It. In other words, you need to F.O.C.U.S.

F = Follow

O = On

C = Course

U = Until

S = Successful

If you set a SMART goal you will have a timeline and when that timeline is over, you can set a new SMART goal with new rules and a new timeline. What’s a SMART goal?

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Relevant

T = Timely

My 28-Day Challenges are a set of SMART goals. When I introduced the bike in place of the treadmill, I allowed Scope Creep in and that changed my goal. B-A-D.

Scope Creep happens all the time, if we aren’t diligent about being aware of it, disciplined to stay focused and well if we don’t have goals and a plan. When you allow Scope Creep in, you have essentially guaranteed you will not meet your SMART GOAL. Most of the time the thing that gets pushed is Time. This is particularly true with work projects… Your IT dept is rolling out a new software feature and you’ve given them 15 new “It would be nice if it did X,Y,Z” ideas. Although you might have very good ideas, if they implement them, they are likely going to miss their next deadline.  This is Scope Creep.

With my bike situation what I should have done, is made a note of my new idea to ride the bike, instead of walking the treadmill and made the change at the beginning of my next 28-Day Challenge. Once I realized I had let The Creep in, I quickly shut the door, returned to the treadmill and finished my 28-Day Challenge successfully.

While your going through your day, think about setting some SMART goals, stay on FOCUS and you will keep The Creep out.