Did you know that you’re always moving one step closer to or away from your goal? That means every thought you think, every word you say, and every action you take is moving you toward what you want — or it’s taking you farther from it.
I didn’t use to think about life this way, and it kept me stuck where I was, looping myself around in the same cycles and keeping me locked in the same old patterns.
The way I used to think was probably very much like you do now. I had a short-term mindset that perpetuated my bingeing-dieting cycle, and it’s a mindset that’s strongly reinforced by our 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday culture.
We tend to think of our lives in small units of time — days and weeks — and this short-term mindset keeps you stuck. That’s because when you slip up, instead of immediately getting back on track you tell yourself that you’ll start over on Monday, or next month, or when the next big event is. You wait three more days or weeks before you start again.
But shifting to a long-term perspective helps you get out of this trap. And one of the most useful ways I’ve found to change my perspective is to constantly keep this thought in the top of my mind: I am always — no matter what I’m doing, thinking, feeling, or saying — moving one step toward or away from my ultimate goal.
There are three ways that telling yourself this will change everything for you:
1. You’ll stay in control. When you dust yourself off and get right back to it, you keep your momentum, get more small wins, and stay motivated. And when you get to turn things around right then and there instead of bashing yourself and waiting until next week to start over, you’ll feel confident and in control, which increases your motivation to make healthy choices in the first place.
2. You’ll have more ways to succeed. It’s not just about food or what you eat. When you keep in mind that it’s the thoughts you think, the words you speak, and every action you take — whether you fold the laundry now or later or whether you drop that F bomb or not — it’s all connected. It’s like a huge web you’re weaving, and everything counts. Which is a good thing, because now you have unlimited options to succeed.
The handful of M&Ms you throw back counts, too, but if you mindlessly eat something, you just remind yourself that it’s moving you in the wrong direction and then do something to get back on track. Do five push-ups while you wait for your coffee to brew, take some deep breaths, call a friend you’ve been meaning to call and feel good about that. Even just reminding yourself of this is a way to course correct.
3. You’ll make better choices. If you remind yourself that you’re always moving toward or away from what you want, you’re going to make conscious decisions and not zone out and binge. When you’re mindful of what you’re doing, you’re more likely to make better choices. Furthermore, if you find yourself doing something that takes you away from your goal, being mindful allows you to figure out why you did it and what you can learn from it. And then choose differently next time.
Remembering that you’re either moving toward or away from what you want also conditions you have dreams, which are a step up from goals. Goals are great, and you should have those, too. But dreams help you create a vision for your life rather than keep you stuck in the achievement mindset, where you either succeed or fail.
Having a dream of living a healthy life causes you to visualize what that looks like, so you naturally adopt the mindset of moving slowly and steadily toward it. Doing it this way is a lot more enjoyable and inspiring than trying (unsuccessfully) to go all out to reach a number on a scale. And making things feel good instead of resistant is key, because resistance will push you to binge if you’re an emotional eater.
If your goal is to lose weight, at the very least modify it from wanting to lose ten pounds to wanting to feel strong and lean. Then also focus on the ultimate life you want to have and keep that in the forefront of your mind. Don’t limit yourself. Dream as big as you can.
And tell yourself multiple times a day, “I am always moving one step closer or one step farther away from my dream.” This will help you keep doing the next right thing — and the next, and the next.
Most of all, remember that your life should be about so much more than losing weight. You weren’t put here on this earth to spend it locked in your house, trying not to eat. Take the new bigger dream you have, and go out there and start achieving it. You’ll lose weight naturally in the process.