Do you feel like you're forever trying to lose weight? Or do you feel like you've been trying to get into an exercise routine for months? Maybe it's time to reevaluate.
It's easy to talk about our values, but ensuring our actions are in line with them is a whole other story. If your actions are constantly conflicting with your words let's take a minute to find out what is actually important to you.
Here is an example of the conflict we are talking about:
Words: I want to lose weight
Actions: eating take out, drinking alcohol frequently, not prepping meals
Words: I want to exercise regularly
Actions: sleeping in, watching TV, working late
Words: I value my health
Actions: eating excess sugar, not exercising, not sleeping
So why is it so easy for us to say one thing and then do the other?
Have you heard the term cognitive dissonance ? It refers to a state of inconsistency, particularly when it comes to behaviour.
It is easy for us to remain in a state of cognitive dissonance because we are so good at creating rationalizations that marry our beliefs with our reality in order to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
We see this all the time when it comes to obtaining health and fitness goals. Many people will record their food intake and/or exercise habits and though they can identify that their actions are not in line with their goals, they can rationalize unfavourable choices with thoughts like "it was a really busy day", "it was just one meal", or "it was the weekend". Once that unfavourable behaviour is rationalized, they do not perceive it to be the barrier to their success.
Once these actions have be absolved, it becomes easy to perceive yourself as the victim of some other circumstance. This is a huge problem because it puts you into a perceived state of powerlessness!
Put your values to the test
Here is a quick way to identify whether or not your actions truly line up with your values. Note that this only works if you are honest with yourself!
On a piece of paper create 4 columns:
2. Level of importance
3. Time spent
In column 1 you will write a value.
In column 2 you will rate that value's importance on scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most important).
In column 3 you will identify on a scale of 1 to 10 how much time you spend each week working on this value (10 being as much time as humanly possible).
In column 4 you will write the difference between the values in columns 2 and 3. The lower the number, the more aligned you are with your value.
9 - 5 = 4
Now that you have a number in column 4, ask yourself "am I okay with this?"
Maybe you are! Maybe you are doing the best you can in your current circumstances and that's great!
But if you are not okay with this difference, let's get to work.
Often times the goals we set are too abstract, or too far in the future. How many times have you told yourself "I'll start on Monday" or "next week" or "tomorrow" or "in the new year". If your value is truly important to you then you will start now.
So what's one thing you can do this week to begin working towards your goal? Maybe you need new gym shoes, or maybe you need to book yourself in for your exercise classes. Perhaps you need to create a meal plan for yourself, or simply go grocery shopping. Pick something you can do now.
Once you've taken that first step, keep yourself going! What do you need to next? For many of us, we simply need to show up. Or maybe you just need to focus on making a healthy dinner today.
You've heard us say before that success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in, and day out. Do your actions align with your values? Or are you rationalizing your actions to avoid an unpleasant truth?
If you can be honest with yourself, start now, and ensure your actions continually align with your value you will become a healthier, stronger, fitter you!