Today’s post will sound like it’s about food, but it’s about a lot more.
The other day I was at a party with a great spread — rich, delicious food and a lot of it: cheese, crackers, chips, cake, ice cream, and so on.
I liked eating some, but realized I didn’t want to eat too much. But everyone was talking around the food table and I find it hard not to eat delicious food right in front of you that everyone else is eating too.
So I used my favorite strategy anyone can use to avoid eating too much of what they don’t want. I didn’t try not to eat the rich foods. I didn’t try to eat less at all. I found the plate of celery, carrots, and cucumber and instead of trying to eat less, I told myself to eat as much of those things as I wanted. Fruit too: strawberries, apple slices, orange slices, and I forget what else. As you might expect, other people weren’t eating the fruits and vegetables nearly as much so I could have as much as I wanted.
You might say I deprived myself of the pleasure of those other foods. On the other hand, I ate as much as I wanted, so I got the pleasure of stuffing my face (well, not really stuffing it, but eating without a second thought), which has a certain pleasure.
I’ve written about how if you want to change something you do, trying to do the opposite usually doesn’t help. Look for its complement. I’ve also written how crowding things you don’t want out changes you more effectively than trying to let go or get rid of them.
It works. Don’t look to stop doing things you don’t want to but get reward from. Look to replace them with things you do want.
I believe I left the party as satisfied as anyone. I ate as much as I wanted with no feelings of guilt, and didn’t have to try hard to police myself. Meanwhile I got a ton of vitamins, fiber, and whatever other nutrition those fruits and vegetables had, without the empty calories of the other stuff.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book