When You Fall Off Your “Horse”: A Game Plan Powerful Questions. No Weapons Allowed
The next time you fall off of your health horse, take the opportunity to LEARN about yourself, your habits, and your values!
Notice that I say “when” NOT “if”?
You will fall. We all fall. You are only human. You will make choices that don’t serve you. I know I do. The key is to course-correct as quickly as possible and learn from the experience.
Have a growth mindset. All experiences are just “data.” Analyze your choices.
That doesn’t mean metaphorically “flog yourself.” Don’t use analysis as a “weapon.” Holding your feet to the fire is not about judgment; it is about growth.
When I fall off my horse I take a moment to interview myself. The interview process is a great “reset”; it allows me to reflect on my choices and examine if they connect to my values and long-term goals. Here are a few of the questions I use. If you find them intriguing, check out Jim Loehr’s book The Power of Full Engagement.
- Was my goal/habit too ambitious? (If “yes” I tweak the goal and make it realistic.)
- Was my goal/habit not important to me? (Your habits should connect to something you actually care about vs something you think you “should” care about. For long-term compliance you need to care about the goal; it should be connected to a deeper “why” and/or value.)
- Was I unsuccessful because I have yet to address the benefits of my current behaviour? (i.e., what is your “unacknowledged resistance” to change? What benefit is your current habit providing? Maybe you are trying to stop emotionally eating without figuring out the root of your emotions. If you are getting solace from food, you won’t be able to stop emotionally eating until you acknowledge the benefit the food is giving you and find an alternative way to get that benefit. Therapy? Journaling? Meditation?)
- Is the life I am trying to live worth what I am giving up to have it? Are my health choices “worth it”? (For example, I used to train for Ironmans for hours on Sunday morning. Now I do a shorter workout so I can be back early enough to spend the morning with my partner, James, and our dog, Olive. Sunday mornings are important for us. The choice to miss my family time is no longer worth the longer workout.)
- What are the 1-3 most important lessons I have learned from this fall and WHY are these lessons important to me? How do these lessons connect to how I want to live my life?
- Who am I at my best? When was I at my best today? What choices can I make to be “my best” more often?
- What quote do I want to see on my tombstone?? What choices can I make today to “live” this quote? How can I learn from this experience to ensure that this quote ends up on my tombstone?
Powerful questions can highlight values and help you become more honest with yourself, but know that honesty is only the first step. The truth will set you free, but it won’t take you where you want to go. Use the answers to the above questions as “rules of engagement” for life—your “road map for action.” Action is the keyword.
For example, if you discover through questioning that you self-sabotage when you feel powerless at work, create a plan so that the feeling powerless doesn’t inspire a food binge or week of skipped workouts. Try an “if/then” plan. When I feel powerless I will do X—journal, contact my therapist, take a few deep breaths. Find alternative ways to serve that emotional need.
The challenge is not to just accept the truth, but to do something with that truth! Your job is to intentionally create habits that serve you!!