I had a boss once who was a good listener. When things went wrong, Iíd go flop in the chair in his office and have a big whine. Iíd tell him what was going wrong, provide all the detail of all the events leading up to and contributing to the failure at hand. My idea was that the more detail I could provide about the nature and source of the disaster, the better equipped we would be to find a solution together so this trouble would never occur again.
Iíd exhaust myself getting to the bottom of the mess, and inevitably after hearing me out, heíd ask, ďSo what went right today?Ē
It took only about 10 or 11 of these meetings for me to catch on. I was focusing too much on the wrong things. He wanted me to focus on and build upon my successes. I wanted to fix and prevent the failures. I was addicted to finding and pointing out error, he was bent on building on strengths and wins. And, well, he was the boss, and I was a minion. Go figure.
We can pretty much assume in life that things will go wrong, weíll step in poo, weíll get a bit of drywall stuck in our hair on national TV, weíll trip, forget, drop, misplace, or simply not be up to the task at hand. But these things are not actually failures. These are just little moments of mishap. Itís failure when you give up.
Failures by themselves are not bad. You can learn a lot from them. But knowing the difference between momentary lapses and real failure is pretty important when youíre doing something really hard, like losing weight. Is bingeing on a bag of chips a failure? No. Itís a mishap. Is going for a week without counting your calories or points a failure? No, itís a lapse.
Is it important to focus on every mishap and lapse? It is not. Itís important to focus on what went right today and build on that.
So, okay, you tripped and landed face first, up to your ears, in a tub of Chunky Monkey. That happens. Oh well. But you also took the stairs instead of the elevator today. Focus on the stairs. Build on the stairs. Tomorrow take the stairs twice. Forgive yourself for the ice cream experience, and move on.
This is where your journal or body log really come in handy. Donít be shy about congratulating yourself. Pull out your journal and write it down. In this private place, you donít have to be bashful. Your body log should be a record of all your big and little wins. If youíre proud that youíve walked three days in a row, give yourself a big boo-rah for that. If youíve made it through one evening without overeating after dinner, congratulate yourself for that. Found a new vegetable you like? Paste a gold star in your book.
Focus on the accomplishments, whatever they look like, small or big. Mine include all kinds of crazy things, like the first time I could pull the plug while sitting in the bathtub and the water drained out of the front AND back of the tub. Might seem like a small thing to you, but it was a big moment for me. The first time I could run a half mile was such a huge accomplishment for me, I drew one large exclamation point in my journal. I didnít bother to write more than that. I will always know what it means.
You want to focus on the good stuff for two reasons. First, and most importantly, success breeds success. The more focused you are on the good stuff, the more likely youíll be to stay with your program. Second, when you do reach your goal weight, youíll have an easier time maintaining if you can remember your hard work and how you felt as you came down the scale. Your journal will become a valuable record. Go to it. Make a habit of recording the good stuff.