Today I want to share a simple yet powerful technique that has been a crucial tool in my journey to health and my personal success.
You may have heard that expression “Do something your future self will thank you for.”
There is profound power in this concept.
As humans we are programmed to love instant gratification. Especially in 2014 – we have evolved to the point that we want everything right now. Communications, results, success.
We want to lose weight with no effort by taking a pill. We get frustrated when someone does not reply straight away to our chat messages. If we email someone we expect a prompt response.
We are living in the economy of NOW.
Society has become fast paced and relentlessly in a hurry for everything.
Perceived pleasure included.
So before you take a drag of that next smoke or shove that cupcake in your face take a deep breathe and pause for a second.
Think about the implications of that action on your health and it’s impact on your goals. Maybe the thought of it won’t be enough of a shock to put that cigarette or cupcake down. But what if we multiply that “one” by 100 times or 1000 repetitions. Scary enough yet?
I’m sure you’ve all heard this quote before “We are the result of all our actions combined and we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”
This is not limited to what we do but also what we do not do.
If you choose not to brush your teeth twice a day and not floss you will have plaque. Simple equation.
As a thought experiment imagine if you ate a piece of chocolate cake and you instantaneously swelled and gained weight and looked worse right there and then. Your buttons on your jeans felt instantaneously tighter. Would you think twice about it before you ate it? Would the 30 seconds of pleasure you experience while eating it be worth it then?
Would you conduct your life differently if the effects in the moment were not invisible?
What if you knew you risked rolling over dead on the spot?
We’ve all been there in the face of temptation and surrender. It seems like such a great idea, “Just this once.” Then there is the short burst of pleasure followed immediately by the regret and feeling of defeat. Was is worth it?
You’ve heard of death by 1000 paper cuts. Well that is what this is. The effects of our habits are gradual and they can sneak up on us. If you ignore the effects for long enough you could wake up one morning and think “What the hell happened?” or “How did this happen to me?”
Well the fat fairy and the bad health goblin did not land at your home in the dead of night and cast a spell on you. You didn’t get sprinkled with fat-making magic dust. This is the result of tons of repeated actions that lead to that ultimate moment when you think “Hell! I need to do something. I can’t live like this anymore.”
I am not a robot and make mistakes like everyone else but when I am offered something decadent or out of my plan or confronted with any potentially unhealthy decision I try and leave the now and strategically make a decision for the future.
In a business sense I was paid in my corporate career to be a strategic thinker. Strategy is about taking the external and internal environment into account and then deciding what actions need to be taken to fulfill goals and visions far into the future. Depending on the industry you are working on this can be a 3-15 year timeline. This differs from management which is about meeting the financial years shorter-term goals and focuses on a shorter horizon. The thinking is different.
You are the boss of you and you need to adopt a more strategic long term way of thinking rather than the managerial decision-making approach to you and your health.
Once you have created a future vision for yourself you need to make sure that the actions you take on a daily basis are taking you closer to that vision and not further away.
This is how you conquer the urge for instant gratification and take control.
Bruce Lee said he is not scared of a man who knows 1000 kicks but fears the man who has practiced the same kick 1000 times.
Personal mastery and taking control of your health depends on you making the right choices.
Use this tool to see your future when confronted with a menu at a restaurant, peer pressure or any obstacle in your way.
This does not even have to be far into the future. Look at a menu and imagine how you will feel two hours later. Sluggish, full and bloated versus light and full of energy?
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