Oreos or the Wall Street Journal?

Do you ever start the day with good intentions that never materialize? You intend to go to that yoga class but time gets away from you. You plan to eat healthy then find yourself grazing on a box of crackers, rationalizing that at least they contain whole grains. Or maybe you vow to stay organized and create more space in your schedule, but finish the day having said yes to too many things. If so, you’re not alone.

good intentions
Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

I was listening recently to a podcast from leadership development expert Michael Hyatt when I heard him say “the most difficult person to lead is yourself.” So if the only person I can control is me, it can be a tough haul! This is precisely at the core of why we do what we don’t want to do, and don’t do what we do want to do.

Hyatt’s comment is the recognition that it’s easier to see other people’s weaknesses than it is our own. And it feels awful to admit, but it can be comfortable to mentally compare downward so that even if we don’t keep a commitment to ourselves at least we’re doing better than so-and-so (as opposed to the upward comparison in which we criticize ourselves).

Self-awareness is essential to achieving what matters most. In the realm of our health and weight, that means knowing our weak spots and learning to neutralize them. It’s in the stressful moments that we face choices necessary for our success. Do we fall back on our compensating behaviors or do we choose a healthy response?

For example, people often tell me they have a weak spot for junk food. If it’s in the house and they’ve had a bad day, they eat it, no matter their good intentions. A client of mine could relate and came up with a fun idea. She decided that at the grocery store, instead of buying food she shouldn’t have, she’ll buy a copy of the Wall Street Journal, something she always tells herself is too expensive. Now she tells herself it will be way cheaper than the junk food she would buy.

It’s a mistake to think that “tomorrow will be better” without a plan to counter the obstacles that regularly pop up. Instead, reflect on the common challenges that confront you when you attempt healthy habits. Does your standard response take your farther away from what you want? How can you take responsibility for that response, and change it?

In the midst of it all, be kind and practice self-compassion because, let’s face it, this isn’t always easy. But know you have what it takes to change. And imagine the possibilities when you do.

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