Let’s say you had a new year resolution to shed 10 kilos.
You start monitoring your food, reducing your sugar intake, walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and also start doing Yoga regularly.
A week passes. You’re feeling more energetic and positive…until you get onto the weighing scale. The needle hasn’t moved.
Your smile wears off from your face. You shrug. And tell yourself, next week will be better.
But the next weekend, the needle is still stubborn.
Your patience starts to wear thin after another week or so.
“Perhaps taking the elevator just this once, won’t hurt”
“A bit more sugar never hurt anyone. It’s not like staying away from it is helping anyways”
And so starts the slide down a slippery slope — all the way back to how things were before you made that resolution.
What if someone had complimented you every time you took the stairs?
What if your spouse noticed that were eating healthier and said: “Wow, that’s really inspiring!”
What if, you had a journal where you were writing down how much more positive you were feeling overall — because of your new food and exercise habits?
My guess is that if even one of the above happened often enough, you wouldn’t quit.
Heck, you may even forget to check that stubborn scale.
It’s not your fault. Or theirs.
There are two reasons why the above much-more-positive scenario doesn’t happen as often as it should:
1. We don’t notice the small stuff
We only tend to notice major changes in our environment.
Let’s say you had an ice cube at -10 degrees celcius and made the room warmer by 1 degree every hour.
You wouldn’t notice any change until it was 0 degrees and the ice starts to melt. But that doesn’t mean that there was no change happening within the ice. It was getting ready to melt the whole time — but just very slowly.
2. We don’t credit the small stuff
Culturally we’re taught to only feel good about ourselves or praise ourselves when we or they “achieve” something big.
“If the needle on the scale doesn’t move, nothing else matters.” — that’s how we’re taught to think.
We’re all taught to compare ourselves with others — so we have a “measure of success”. So, it doesn’t matter that you’re feeling great about yourself — for having stayed away from sugar for 3 days in a row. No one cares about that.
The way forward
You can’t change others, but you can change the way that you perceive yourself.
Give yourself more credit. Start journaling.
Write down every tiny thing that you did well. And for the bits that didn’t go so well, don’t beat yourself up. Simply make a note.
Tomorrow’s another day. Another chance to make another tiny improvement.
To increase things by 1 more degree. When you’re the ice, you can feel yourself getting better. Nothing else matters.
PS: I stole the ice metaphor from the amazing Atomic Habits.