hard times; easy choices

This is a talk I delivered at my local toastmasters club on Monday 17th July, 2017.

In the first four and a half months of this year I visited 10 cities in 4 countries, mostly for work, some for leisure.

In early May, in the midst of this whirlwind of movement, I visited my local library, as I often do, and I was drawn to this book: The Art of Stillness: adventures in going nowhere. I'm not sure why I was so drawn to the book but it ended up in a pile of books that I borrowed that day.

Continue reading hard times; easy choices

goals vs systems

This time of year when I hear a lot of people setting goals I am reminded of the awesome thoughts of Scott Adam’s on goals versus systems:

“…I talk about using systems instead of goals. For example, losing ten pounds is a goal (that most people can’t maintain), whereas learning to eat right is a system that substitutes knowledge for willpower.

Here’s another example. Going to the gym 3-4 times a week is a goal. And it can be a hard one to accomplish for people who don’t enjoy exercise. Exercising 3-4 times a week can feel like punishment – especially if you overdo it because you’re impatient to get results.  When you associate discomfort with exercise you inadvertently train yourself to stop doing it. Eventually you will find yourself “too busy” to keep up your 3-4 days of exercise. The real reason will be because it just hurts and you don’t want to do it anymore. And if you do manage to stay with your goal, you use up your limited supply of willpower.

Compare the goal of exercising 3-4 times a week with a system of being active every day at a level that feels good, while continuously learning about the best methods of exercise. Before long your body will be trained, like Pavlov’s dogs, to crave the psychological lift you get from being active every day. It will soon become easier to exercise than to skip it – no willpower required. And your natural inclination for challenge and variety will gently nudge you toward higher levels of daily activity while at the same time you are learning in your spare time how to exercise in the most effective way. That’s a system.”

I must admit I now crave ‘the psychological lift’ I get from being active every day. And my natural inclination for challenge and variety has been gently nudging me towards higher levels of daily activity and more challenging hikes.

Scott Adams is spot on.

choices

I really enjoyed this page on permanent weight loss, particularly this part (emphasis added):

Here are two views on healthy eating.

First, the demonic view: Look at everything you are currently eating. Delete the foods that are too sweet, too fatty, or junk. Oh no! There’s almost nothing left? We’re going to starve! Must find food now! Must eat now! Eat to live!

The other view is that there is a lot of really good food out there. Adopting a healthier diet can open up lots of new choices.

The bad part of living in an age of abundance is that we overeat. The good part is that there is an amazing variety of wonderful, affordable, good foods available to you every day. It will take some study, but your efforts will be rewarded.