Yesterday was a day like any other.  I met with clients and helped them resolve their issues, did some invoicing and then went for my evening jog.  I was a little tired, but made myself change my clothes, grab my iPod and head out the door.

About halfway through the jog I started thinking about my recent dedication to some key areas of my life.  I’ve completely dropped desserts, started getting up at 4:30am to work on my blog and almost never miss a day of exercise.  Why is this?  What changed?  It wasn’t too long ago that I drudged through my work day and only attempted to squeeze in a jog or bike ride once or twice a week.  The thought of getting up before 7am was something I never even considered.

By now my jog is almost over and I almost let the thought go unfinished.  But as I started heading up the last big hill and was really feeling the burn, it hit me.  What changed was the strength of my resolve. My desire to be successful, live healthy and make the most out of every day had suddenly become stronger than the rest.  When a temptation to give in came my way, it was suddenly weaker than my drive to hold true to my current heading.  At this point it all become very clear.

You know how they always say, “You can’t just stop doing one thing without replacing it with another”?  This is because we are always being pulled in a particular direction.  Our minds are never neutral, but always seeking something.  It is that ‘something’ with the strongest pull that your mind will be drawn to.  So, for example, if you ‘just can’t quit smoking’, it’s not a matter of can or can’t, but what is of greater value to you in your mind.  If you can’t quit, it’s because there’s nothing in your mind that is stronger than your desire to smoke.  Find a stronger desire and defeat the habit.  But how do you find a stronger desire?

The Strongest Desire – A Personal Example

Let me give you an example out of my one life.  I am hypoglycemic which basically means I am very sensitive to sugar and other simple carbohydrates.  If I have too many simple carbs I get a spike in blood sugar.  This gives me a quick burst of energy, but is always followed by a crash of some kind.  My blood sugar drops way below normal and I start getting tired, cranky and, if left too long, I will get dizzy, nauseous and eventually pass out.

This has forced me to stick to a strict diet that helps me maintain an even level of blood sugar.  But, like everyone else, I love desserts!  So I’ve always tried to find ways of eating sweats without too much of the negative affects.  Sometimes I am somewhat successful but it eventually catches up to me.  So for some, eating a dessert is no big deal.  For me, though, it had become a ‘bad habit’ that was negatively affecting my life.

My tactics for dealing with the issue in the past was to just only eat sweets on occasion.  And when I did, I tried to keep it to a minimum.  But for me, this was like ‘only having a couple of cigarettes a week.’  In other words, if it has a negative affect on my life, doing it ‘just a little’, is still negative.  Looking back on this scenario I realized that I never had anything in my mind that was stronger, in those few moments of the day, than my desire to eat sweets.  Sure, I might have gotten up enough ‘will power’ to defeat it once in a while, but my sweet tooth was always the victor in the end.

The problem was that I was looking for a stronger desire in that very moment.  Of course there wasn’t one to be found.  But as I looked closer at the string of events that took place AFTER I ate the dessert, I was able to find what I was looking for.  Let’s go through the events in order.

  1. Eat sweets.
  2. Feel good and have a lot of energy.
  3. Feel tired and sometimes anxious.
  4. Loose all motivation to do anything worthwhile.
  5. Feel like CRAP!
  6. Try to eat something healthy to bring my blood sugar back to a healthy level.
  7. Feel a little better and say “I won’t do that again”.
  8. Eat sweets…

You get the point.  The closer I looked at the negative effects that sugar had on me and the long string of events that occurred afterward, I was able to start strengthening my resolve to not eat ANY desserts, period.  Like I said, a little bit of negative never results in any sort of positive.  I started to see how this eating pattern was taking me on an emotional roller coaster that was keeping me from living the healthy, happy life that I desired.  I started to see all the time I wasted trying to ‘just have a little dessert’.

So now, when I am offered a dessert, I confidently say ‘no thank you’.  Because now, when I think of eating sweets, all I can see are the negative results that would follow.  And THIS is much stronger than a brief moment of desire.

Photo by JuJuly25

Eric Hamm

Eric Hamm writes about personal growth at his blog Motivate Thyself.

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