Always Give Yourself the Freedom to Choose

Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash

In the first post of the series, I outlined six reasons why New Year's Health Resolutions (and most habit changes) fail.

In this post, I'll delve into further details around the THIRD reason why they fail:

3 - You took away your freedom to choose

Almost all diet and exercise programs take away your autonomy. They give you a prescribed plan that you absolutely must stick to because if you don't - if you deviate at all - you're destined to be a miserable failure FOREVER.

Here's the problem with that: when you remove your ability to choose, you'll feel confined and helpless.

"Without knowing it, we often box ourselves into a corner, taking any semblance of choice away. We feel trapped, pushed to persist no matter what..."¹

It's in situations where you feel as though you have no choice that you're most likely to rebel against whatever rules have been imposed.

Like an elastic that's been pulled too hard in one direction, you'll snap back in opposition.

Rigid and exhausting exercise plan?

SLOTH MODE. You don't leave the couch for weeks; you become one with the sofa.

Super strict diet?

BINGE MODE. You eat all the things. Specifically those that were forbidden on whatever plan you were on. No carbs? You'll eat entire loaves of bread in one sitting. No fat? You'll start buttering everything including your supplements.

"When we don’t have control, we lose the capacity to cope."¹

If we want to succeed in adopting new habits, we have to give ourselves options.

"...the desire to be causal agents of one’s own life is intricately tied to our well-being. It serves as one of the...basic psychological needs that allow us to flourish and bolster our motivation."¹

Change is challenging, so we need to approach it gently; we have to give ourselves the ability to make choices and be flexible.

"Choice allows us to take back control, to be able to make that decision. It’s a kind of superpower that brings back confidence, helps us wrestle with our emotions, and allows us to learn, adapt, and grow...

If we want to develop tough individuals, we’ve got to put them in a position to make decisions, and empower them to do just that. For far too long, we’ve trained helplessness."¹

No CHOICE = Disempowering. Because you're giving your power to an external voice of authority.

CHOICE = Empowering. Because you're owning your power and authority to make the best decisions for you.

In a nutshell: No CHOICE = No CHANGE.

Therefore, in the process of making changes, always give yourself a choice.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In the next post, I'll delve into further details around the FOURTH reason why New Year's Health Resolutions (and most habit changes) fail:

4 - You succumbed to black & white thinking

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¹Magness, SteveDo Hard Things; Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Science of Real Toughness. Harper Collins, 2022.


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