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Getting unstuck: Tips for making powerful health choices TODAY!

Getting Unstuck

 

We’ve all been there. You’re stuck. You genuinely want to make healthy changes and you understand the benefits, but you are not making progress.
 
Perhaps you’re not taking the actions that you know you need to take; or maybe life has thrown you a curveball and circumstances are challenging. Whatever the reason, it’s zapping your motivation. You’re losing hope.
 
My most recent “stuck” experience had to do with my Master’s thesis. Broken promises from people who had agreed to participate but didn’t follow through; family illnesses; and uncertainties related to the downturn in oil and gas all took their toll. The wind was completely gone from my sails, and it was impacting my quality of life, my relationships, and my health.
 
Then I received a fateful call from the university. If I didn’t take action, I would likely be removed from the program. The end result? A huge shift in momentum, thanks to a few new strategies for moving myself into action, in spite of how stuck I felt. Here’s what I learned:

  • Clear your mind of all thought. As Zen as this sounds, I’m not talking about mindfulness, meditation, or yoga. I’m simply saying, “Stop over-thinking.” If you are like me, you can get stuck in analysis paralysis. You think of every strategy, consequence, and scenario around your situation. Unfortunately, this is typically not helpful, and usually prevents you from moving forward. Try to see things for what they are, not for all the unhelpful scenarios that could be.
  • STOP. You are probably thinking, “Stop? That’s his sage advice?!” Yup. Just for fun, try saying the word STOP. What happened? The word “stop” is a pattern breaker. It can disrupt the cycle of over-thinking and act as a reset. It gives us the opportunity to insert something new.
  • Choose to be powerful. When I was stuck in my big funk, my wife said something incredibly impactful. She said, “You can choose to break this cycle of self-pity. You can choose to do something about it.”
Interestingly, it wasn’t so much the decision to act that was empowering, it was the decision to stop being a victim. I had been focused on my guilt for procrastinating and my embarrassment for not making progress. Both were incredibly disempowering. Choosing to stop being a victim re-engaged me to take responsibility for my feelings, my actions, and my words. This decision didn’t just make sense logically, it also struck a positive emotional chord. It brought the best of both worlds together and created a monumental shift. I didn’t just see the situation differently, positive events actually started to happen. My luck–if that’s what you want to call it–began to change.
 
So, what can you say to yourself that empowers you? What can you say to yourself that will be a catalyst to taking action?

  • Use “if-then planning. “If-then” planning is a technique you can use to create specific steps or actions to support your goals. If you’ve ever tried setting yourself a goal, you have no doubt learned that no goal is an island. For example, I could say, “I will lose 25 pounds by the end of the year.” Certainly this is a goal, but it will be difficult to achieve without some specifics. Exactly how will I achieve this goal over the next few months?
 
With if-then planning, you keep the goal in mind, you look at the context (your situation), and you determine what actions you can take that will contribute to achieving the goal. IF this (context) happens, THEN I will do that (action).
 
Let’s try a Nutella (as you may recall, the bane of my existence) example. This is how it typically goes for me: IF I go to Costco and buy the double pack of Nutella, THEN within days, I will eat it all with a spoon, leaving none for my kids…
 
Seriously, though, there are two if-then strategies I actually use at Costco to deal with Nutella. The first is this: IF I go to Costco, THEN I will avoid the Nutella aisle. The second is: IF somehow I end up in the Nutella aisle, THEN I will choose to walk past and wave goodbye to the Nutella. See how it works?
 
IF you have specific if-then plans to follow when particular situations occur, THEN you will have a better chance of achieving your goal than you would have without those plans!

  • Do or do not. There is no try. (No blog post would be complete without words of wisdom from Yoda, one of the most influential thinkers of our time!) What this means is don’t wait. It’s go-time. IF you are always waiting for the right conditions, the right inspiration, or to “feel like it” before you act, THEN you won’t make proactive decisions that reflect the health and happiness you truly deserve. Sometimes what we feel like doing and what we are committed to doing are two different things.
 
Feeling stuck is tough. It can make things feel even more difficult than they already seem to be. But you can do more than just hope that things will improve. Stop over-thinking. Break the pattern. Focus on your goal of better health. Use if-then planning to set a course of action. ACT.
 
You have what it takes to get unstuck. Someday is today.
 
Marco Iafrate