After conversations with two marketing consultants last week, I started thinking about how the elements of strategy and tactics can be applied to fitness as well as business.
So that we’re on the same page, “strategy” refers to the long-term mission or objective, and “tactics” refers to the short-term actions or projects that are used to move a business toward the long-term mission.
We, as individuals, can have a fitness strategy (or big-picture plan) as well as tactics (or short-term steps or activities) that move us closer to our long-term objectives.
Your strategy might be to improve your cardiovascular fitness and increase your lean muscle mass. In this case, your tactics might include running three days each week and lifting weights two days each week, or your tactics might include walking five days each week and swimming once a week.
Your strategy might be to feel happier and healthier. If so, your tactics might include spending more time exercising (adding one or two more active days per week), planning to exercise outside at least once a week, and including group exercise at least once a week. Alternatively, your tactics might include practicing yoga three times a week, specifically because you love it. (In this case, your tactics might also include non-exercise activities, as the strategy is a broader goal.)
Redefining your strategy would require more thought and effort than switching tactics, which could change more frequently, depending on perceived effectiveness.
Your strategy and your tactics should take into account who you are — your values, lifestyle, and commitments — as well as where you want to go.
Different strategies may or may not employ some of the same tactics, though the strategy should determine the tactics and not vice versa.
Exercising regularly (applying tactics consistently) will help you to achieve fitness results (meet your long-term objectives), and understanding where you want to go will help you to determine if the considered actions will be helpful or not.
Sometimes you need to take action and stick with it for a period of time before attempting to evaluate the effectiveness of that action.
For example, if you want to know if lifting weights will help you to increase your lean muscle mass, you will need to engage in strength training for a number of weeks (or months) before you may be able to see a noticeable change in your body.
Other times it will be clear right away that a particular action is or isn’t a good fit with the long-term strategy.
For example, if you don’t have access to a rowing machine, including rowing as a regular activity in your exercise schedule isn’t a good tactic. Without access, you won’t row regularly, which will undermine your efforts to exercise consistently.
If you have started your list of reasons why exercise is important to you, you may find it easier to define your strategy and, from there, outline the tactics you wish to try. Note that tactics may or may not work; consider testing, evaluating, and adjusting part of the process.
Further, though you can certainly choose tactics without considering your strategy (or your why), doing so may not be very effective. (If you don’t know or care where you are going, any direction will do.)
Understanding your why will help you to stick with your exercise plan when the going gets tough, your strategy is your roadmap for getting where you want to go, and your tactics are the regular actions you take to reach your long-term goals.