Moving from “if only” to “only if” to “even if”…
As we head into 2023, I want to challenge you to work on changing your thinking to help sustain behavioural changes.
Let’s start with wishful thinking.
How many of you have heard yourself saying “I wish I could” or “if only” type of statements? This type of wishful thinking is great when you’re spending time dreaming of things you would love to do or accomplish in your life. Unfortunately, too many people seem to get stuck at this point and never move onto action.
When you think about it, this type of thinking is quite disempowering and defeating if it goes on for too long. Wishing and hoping for things, thinking that you can affect the world around you, can limit your ability to achieve your goals. For example, I personally wished and hoped for a spouse when all my friends were getting married and having families. All the wishing and hoping didn’t do me much good though when my low self esteem and self-deprecating humour made everyone I met take off in the opposite direction!
I’ve had many a conversation with people where they start off with phrases like “I wish I could lose weight”, “I wish I was more disciplined” or “I wish I could exercise regularly”. The people who get stuck here are the ones that never seem to change their thinking. They see other people around them having success, wondering why they can’t seem to reach their own goals.
In order to begin to make change, you need to BEGIN! It’s really that easy. It might not be what someone else is doing, but then, as the saying goes “comparison is the thief of joy”. If you are always comparing your achievements to someone else, you will never really find joy in what you have personally accomplished.
The next one is conditional thinking.
This type of thinking leads us to believe we can only act if and when the conditions are perfect. I have to admit that it was actually my own experience that lead me to wanting to write this article. I went to a lecture recently where the speaker was talking about the concept of moving from “only if to even if” and that really resonated with me. My Thursday afternoon workouts have been a perfect example of this type of thinking. Normally I have a slightly shorter work day on Thursdays to allow myself time to head to the gym after I finish at the office. I realized, while sitting in that lecture, that I had been playing a game with myself.
I would go to the gym only if I got off work on time. Only if I felt up to it after a particularly challenging day. Only if the weather was good and I wouldn’t have to work out and get back out into the cold, or rain etc. Going back to the previous example, I would put up barriers because someone had the littlest imperfections (even what I considered weird toes could be a deal breaker…I know, I’m a little odd…but all the waiting paid off in the end)
I knew I had to change my thinking because conditions will never be perfect! If we spend all our days waiting for things to be perfect before we act, we will accomplish little.
Now we move on to committed thinking.
Here’s where we move onto the concept of thinking even if. Take my Thursday afternoon workouts for example. I have started writing “GYM – NO EXCUSES” at the end of my schedule on Thursday. So now, even if I am late leaving the office, even if it’s been a hard day and I feel too drained to go, even if the weather isn’t the greatest, I am committed to heading to the gym after work. It might not be at 10/10 type of effort but there is value in the act of doing something when you don’t particularly feel like doing it, knowing that, once finished, you have a great sense of accomplishment.
This can be applied in many situations in life. For example, maybe you’re going out to a restaurant and you start by thinking “I wish I could eat healthy but…”, to “I’ll stay on track only if I can look at the menu ahead or they have something on the menu that works”, to “I’m going to stay on track no matter what and I’m going to do that by doing the following…”
Maybe you want to start making more connections in your community. This looks like “I wish I had more friends” to “I’ll wait until someone comes to talk to me when we go out in the neighbourhood” to “i’m going to go out of my way to be friendly with people I see when we go out for a walk”.
Maybe it’s an exercise goal. Back 10 years ago, I very quickly went from “I wish I could do a triathlon” to “I’ll get my bike ride in if the weather is good later today ” to “Ok, it’s raining, but I still have to get out and crank out a 2 hour training ride, so here we go”.
Change your way of thinking to change your behaviour. Change your behaviour to change how you feel! It feeds your own sense of empowerment and self efficacy when you realize you can follow through with things. It leaves you with a sense of accomplishment rather than repeatedly feeling like a failure.
So, as you enter a new year, put aside the idea of New Year’s Resolutions (those are the things that help gyms make most of their profits in the first 4-6 weeks of every year). Instead, set goals, make plans to accomplish those goals and take action to achieve them. Start small, build your confidence, garner support from those around you, find likeminded people and set off remembering that, without challenge, there is no opportunity for growth.
We at MD Weight Loss wish you all the best for a happy, prosperous and successful new year. A year of goals, growth, challenge and change!