If you feel like you’re not making any progress in life, or your just feel stuck, take a look at the type of choices you are making on a consistent basis.
Every single day we’re faced with two options when it comes to making a choice. Typically these fall into two categories: easy or right.
The easy choice take no willpower to do. You just do them. You’re more than happy to do them. It’s comfortable. It’s easy because you’ve done it hundreds or thousands of times. It has become a habit.
The right choice take a lot of willpower. You don’t automatically make that choice. It makes you uncomfortable. You may not want to do it. It’s hard to do because you haven’t done it that often. It’s not a habit.
When faced with a choice, we immediately will choose the easy one. It’s naturally what we want to do. We always want everything to be easier in our life. Easy feels good. Easy feels relaxing. Easy is stress free.
But the easy choice sometimes is disguised as the wrong one. It appears as the choice that will make you happier, but making the easy choice the majority of the time will lead to unwanted results in your life.
On the other hand, when you make the right choice the majority of the time, it can lead to extraordinary results. The right choice is what you know you should be doing. The right choice will lead you to the edge of your comfort zone. It gets you closer to the goals you dream about.
It is a tough battle when deciding between the two. They don’t get along. They’re like the angel and the devil that sits on your shoulders talking to you. Each one wants you to listen to them.
The easy choice wants you to take the rest of the day off. Just begin tomorrow it tells you. It wants you to turn on the TV and find something interesting to watch, instead of what you really need to be doing.
The right choice wants you to do what you said you were going to do. It doesn’t want you to put it off till tomorrow. It wants to make your dreams come true for you, but it can’t do it for you. You have to do the work. It tells you to turn off the TV, and do what you should be doing.
Which one do you choose most of the time?
Personally, I’ve learned first hand the struggle between making the easy versus the right choice since coming back from four months of traveling.
The results of the easier choice
My wife and I came back to Florida after being on a long vacation to Taipei, Sydney, Hong Kong since late January. It was trip I had been waiting for since last July. We had a blast.
While spending time overseas, I was on vacation mode. That means I rarely exercised and I ate anything I craved. Even if I was full, if I craved dessert, I’d eat it.
After a huge meal, I would always regret it in little as an hour later. My wife unfortunately got to hear all my complaining about being so full and vowing not to do it again.
Yet the next day, I’d be at it again. I had zero willpower. Even when the part of my brain said “Nope don’t do it“, the other part made excuses to make the easier choice.
- “I can’t eat this at home so I better eat as much as I can.”
- “Just one isn’t going to hurt.”
- “This tastes so good. I want to eat more of it.”
The right thing to do would have been to cut back on how much I was eating and skip the occasional desserts. However, the easy choice gave me instant gratification. It made me happy. I didn’t have to think too hard about it.
Even when I saw the consequences of my choices, it did not stop me because of those same reasons I mentioned above.
I realized my body was changing. My shorts started to get tight around the waist. I also looked like I was three months pregnant. I had this huge belly that I couldn’t suck in. Talk about embarrassing! I was disgusted with myself. I’ve never been like that before. I didn’t wear a bunch of t-shirts I brought anymore because they were too tight. Relatives would see me and comment on how much weight I gained.
Despite hating how I looked, every single day when faced with temptation, I made the easier choice. It became second nature to me like a habit. I had done it so many times that when faced with a choice to make, I defaulted to the easier one.
Not only was I heavier, but my health was not great.
While we were traveling, I got so many headaches. I don’t remember ever having this many headaches in a span of a few months. Often I’d be sleepy in the middle of the day and take a nap. When I woke up, I’d have the worst headache. The frequency of them were not normal.
When I went to bed at night, my heart would be beating so fast. Kinda freaked me out because I thought it was suppose to be calmer since I was going to bed. Some nights I had a hard time falling asleep because of this.
I’m sure my body wasn’t handling all this weight well. I was feeding myself lots of sugar and consuming way too much. No wonder I felt so sluggish every day.
I even said I would go find a way to exercise while we were overseas, but I believe I only ran a few times total in the four months we were there.
I got lazy. The easier choice was to sit in front of the computer or watch TV. The right choice would have been to get some exercise, and enjoy the good food but just not eat so much of it all the time.
Every time I went with the easier choice.
I had to stop this
That’s why when I came back home, I was determined to get healthy by changing my eating habits and exercise. It wasn’t going to be easy because even before we left, I would just eat whatever. Once a week we’d order a pizza. We always had ice cream or cookies in the house. All of 2012, I kept saying I was going to lose this weight I had been gaining, but I never did.
I weighed myself when we got home and I was 199 pounds! An insane number since I have never been that heavy before. Before we left, I was 188, which was my heaviest at the time.
My weight and my health were not heading in the right direction. and it was time to make the right choice.
It has been a couple weeks so far and it has not be all that easy, despite being so motivated.
The first couple days eating smaller meals and no sugar at all wasn’t that hard. That third day is when I started craving a pizza. I love pizza. Could eat it every day probably. I knew I shouldn’t have it. It is not the right choice. I would overeat for sure.
I had to wait until the weekend when I would allow myself one day to indulge in the cravings for the week.
I definitely was going to have a pizza, but it was only Wednesday! The easier option would have been to just order that pizza and stop the craving for it. I knew I would regret it after eating though.
BUT I also knew if I gave into my craving, the next time it would happen, it’d be harder to resist. Knowing me, that craving would have come just a couple days later.
So I made the right choice which was to not order it and cook at home. The next day, the craving came back again. This time it was much harder to resist. A pizza sounded so good. I could just eat it now and not eat it this weekend. I’ve been exercising daily so it wouldn’t be so bad. That part of me tried to find a reason to eat it.
I had to make the right choice and I did for that moment.
I saw the same thing happen when it came to exercising. I don’t have a gym membership so I just go for a run or workout at the playground. One my second day of exercising I was doing 100 burpees and doing them in sets of 10. Between sets I’d take a couple minute break because I was out of shape. It is a total body workout and I was exhausted by the fifth set. I did up to 70 and I remember rationalizing with myself that I should stop now. My goal was 100, but my legs were burning and sweat was pouring down.
I remember trying to tell myself it was okay to stop. It was my first week and I shouldn’t push myself hard. I knew I could still finish though. Physically I was tired, but I wasn’t dizzy or felt like puking. I could finish, but I was thinking 30 more sounded like a lot.
I knew I’d regret stopping now so I went with the right choice and finished the last three sets even no matter how long it took. It felt great to know that I planned to do 100 and didn’t stop short.
This doesn’t just apply to eating healthy and losing weight. It applies to all areas of our life.
- Staying in your comfort zone
- Spend all morning watching TV and using the computer
- Getting fast food on the way home from work
- Check Facebook, Twitter, and email all at the same time
- Being uncomfortable and living at the edge of your comfort zone
- Get away from the computer and spend 30-45 minutes exercising
- Cooking at home
- Doing one task at a time
- Do it now
We all have this battle inside. This week take a look at your actions and see what choices you are making. If you feel like you’re stuck in life and procrastinating, you’re making the easier choice the majority of the time. You may not realize it while you’re doing it because it’s become a habit.
Don’t aim for perfection
We aren’t perfect in life so don’t try and be perfect.
Despite just telling you I made the right choice at times, I’ve failed too.
I’ve had days when I have failed and eaten half a box of Oreos, then the next day eating the other half. I’ve screwed up and have regretted it. I’ve ordered a pizza when I shouldn’t have. I’ve been to Costco planning eating nothing, but my wife and I shared an strawberry sundae and a chocolate covered ice cream bar.
Even earlier today, I had a cookies and cream milkshake! 700 calories of deliciousness. I shouldn’t have had it, but it was so hot outside and it sounded good.
Those choices don’t get me any closer to my goal. I knew that, but I went with what would make me feel good at that moment. Did I regret it the rest of the day? Oh definitely.
Just because I made the easy choice, it doesn’t mean I’m giving up totally.
What’s important is that I’m making the right choice more often than the easy one. If I mess up, the next day I forget about it. It’s a new day and new opportunities to make the right choice.
It will take time
When you consistently make the right choices, you will want to see results. You might see some, but not as much as you would like. It will be very easy to give up.
It’s been three weeks since I’ve been back, and while I’ve seen improvement, I’m nowhere near the weight I want to be at. I have to remind myself that it took over a year to put on all this weight so it’s not going to come off easily. Six pack abs aren’t realistic in three weeks!
The same is for anything you want to do. Don’t expect a quick fix, or overnight change. Even though you aren’t seeing massive results right away, it doesn’t mean the right choice isn’t working for you.
This week see how often you face a situation when you have to choose between easy or right. What choice do you make?
If you need help figuring out which one to make, think about what will get you closer to your goals.
Photo credit Beth Hoffman