The failure of losing 11 pounds
I had a patient today who was upset that when she weighed herself in the office, she was “only down 11 pounds.” She proceeded to tell me all the things she had been doing right. Since I last saw her 3 months ago, she was continuing with intermittent fasting (which she feels great on), she was walking either 2 miles or 3.5 miles every day with only 3 days missed, and was able to fit into clothes that were previously too small. How could she be doing all that and “only” be down 11 pounds?
So I asked her, “If you were up 11 pounds, would you use the word ‘only’?”
Of course not.
Eleven pounds can’t be a lot in one direction and a little in another direction. It is a consistent measure. I recognized this thought error quickly because it is one that I have often had myself.
The problem was her expectation… and the common propensity to diminish our successes.
She felt good. She looked good. She was stronger.
But until I pointed all that out, she was ready to throw it all away because of an arbitrary number that even she agreed couldn’t be good AND bad depending on which way it went.
How often do you set a goal, do some of the steps, and not get the result that you want in the time you think it should happen? And then you use language like “only 11 pounds”.
The problem is that by looking only at a perfectionistic final result and diminishing our successes along the way, we make things so much harder for ourselves and can actually sabotage our attainment of the goal.
It’s like when a 5 year old brings home their first writing assignment from school. All the words are spelled wrong and you ask them to read it out of fear that you won’t be able to figure it out. Do you look at it, roll your eyes in exasperation and chastise them? Do you say “I know you wrote this but you did most of it wrong?”
If you do, you are a horrible person.
No! Of course we find something that they did right. Maybe all of the A’s are written neatly. Maybe the picture is great. Maybe it is the first time they ever wrote a sentence. We wouldn’t dream of crushing their joy.
And you know why? Because they would lose confidence. They would stop trying.
And yet, this is exactly what we do to ourselves when we push all the good things aside because the goal isn’t met yet. It’s a return of the all or nothing thinking, and it’s poisonous.
It’s like we choose to keep punching ourselves in the face instead of giving ourselves a hand up.
On top of that, if we consider anything less than perfection a failure, then we miss out on the opportunity to continue doing what is supporting our goals because we are telling ourselves that it isn’t enough. We decide it’s working OR it’s not working.
What if we found the middle ground? What if some things are working AND some things aren’t? We need to keep placing our votes in the ballot box of the person we WANT to be. Keep doing the things until we tip the vote in the right direction. We stop voting if we tell ourselves that our votes don’t matter, if our actions aren’t enough.
What if we celebrate every little success?
How would it feel to go to bed at night feeling satisfied with yourself, or even proud, that you are working toward what you want? How would it feel to think that your successes will build up and up and up until you achieve what you want? Wouldn’t that feel better at night than feeling that you wasted all your time because you totally disregarded all the little wins?
Sit there and picture yourself feelling super proud tomorrow that you are one step closer. Feel the sweet satisfaction of accomplishment.
THAT is available to you.
Get a pen, write down something you are happy that you are doing, something that you are working toward, something that you can take credit for. Search for something that you did today toward that goal. Search for the win.
At first it may be hard. It may be something super small like just seeing what the requirements for posting on INDEED are before looking for a new job. It may be leaving the last 2 bites on your plate if you are trying to lose weight. It may be the patience that you showed your coworker because you want to work toward getting a raise and part of that is being a good team player. It may be downloading an exercise app and planning a time this weekend to work out. It may be spending a few minutes with your kids instead of worrying about cleaning up the kitchen.
Once you direct your attention to these things, you will start seeing just how important they are and you will subconsciously start looking for more. Doesn’t that sound lovely? If you really want a jumpstart, make a practice of writing down 5 wins every single day.
People are motivated by success, not failure. And believe it or not, the size of the success doesn’t matter when it comes to motivation. The brain interprets ANY success as positive reinforcement… unless you jump in and tell yourself it’s not enough.
Stop diminishing your success already,
that stuff is the secret sauce.
Come celebrate your successes with me over at NursingBeyondtheJob on Facebook