Count me among the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs in the dot com bust. Despite a solid 18-year career with a range of professional accomplishments, when the company I worked for in 2002 hit a financial speedbump, I was jettisoned from my management position with a simple phone call.
The first thing I did was to avail myself of a ‘career coach’ with what little severance money I had. She was a bright, cheerful, positive woman, who charged an astronomical fee and met me for coffee simply to ask me a lot of questions and then tell me that I needed to ‘see this as an opportunity to move forward’ in my career. And that was that, as far as she was concerned.
So I moved on (and shelled out even more money) to another outfit that did group career-counseling sessions for ‘executives in transition.’ We met for six or seven weeks and it was more of the same — imagine the best you can be, practice selling yourself by tapping into your accomplishments and look up, up, up to where you see yourself flying.
I’m sorry, but what a bunch of hooey! So not only was I despondent over being laid off, I felt completely inadequate for not being strong enough to picture the whole scenario as a lucky accident that was affording me the greatest opportunity in my life to create change.
Of course, I understand the THEORY behind all of this. After all, no one ever gets ahead selling themselves short, and it doesn’t help your career path to express to potential employers your desparation, depression or doubt. These counselors weren’t charlatans — they believed sincerely in what they were saying.
Nevertheless, it left me feeling stupid, unaccomplished, and hopeless. In retrospect, I can see that I just wasn’t ready to force myself to look at this misfortune in the way they suggested. More importantly, the vision of success that was I was encouraged to adopt involved a huge change in self-perception, at the very moment when I was most vulnerable and in doubt.
Ironically, what ultimately helped me was to join a self-sustaining group of out-of-work professionals that met each week to develop goals and discuss strategies and setbacks. I knew I was in the right place when one of the ivy-league-educated, talented, charming and accomplished group members broke down in tears one day when explaining how he felt he was letting down his wife and kids.
Now what does this have to do with weight loss?
Well, it strikes me that sometimes, when we read articles, consult experts, and listen to our peers we can be left with the feeling that at the end of the weight-loss rainbow is our happy, amazingly healthy, thin self just waiting for us. We do need, at times, to re-imagine ourselves, to re-invent ourselves and to strive for new goals.
But, just like with my unemployment experience, we also need to create weight management goals and dreams that ‘feel’ achievable and are within our grasp. It just might be too big a task to look at this as our pathway to being thin for life. It could be that our best option is to look at the smallest possible thing we could do to feel like we’re moving forward.
Journal for one day. Try one new exercise. Eat a new vegetable. Drink several glasses of water, instead of soda.
To be fair, my professional counsellors also talked about this kind of mini-goal setting. But they constantly reminded me that the end goal was my fabulous new career that was just out there waiting for me to reach out and grab it. And that always overshadowed my efforts.
Trust me, I want YOU to be your ‘best self’ and to be as slender, healthy and long-lived as possible. And I want you to believe in yourself. You are unique, wonderful and completely deserving of that.
But ‘success’ isn’t about becoming that person. Success is about the learning process — eating better (not perfectly), being more active (not necessarily running a marathon), establishing new eating patterns (not giving up pizza). Success is that first baby step you take. Success is the next baby step. And the next.
So whether you are just starting to approach your weight loss, are currently engaged in losing weight, or have already reached your weight loss goal, keep in mind what true success is all about. I realize that this advice is probably worth exactly what you’ve paid for it, but if my experience is any indication, there’s really nothing wrong at all with dreaming SMALL.
Sweet (small) dreams!