As humans, we tend to get excited about something and go all in. That action may be prompted by a conversation with someone who inspired us, an event (such as a movie, sporting event, or seminar) that motivated us, or even hitting a new low, getting smacked with the realization that something has got to change.
What do we do next? We go full throttle in an effort to get exactly what we want or to get exactly where we want as fast as humanly possible. If it’s a diet change, we buy all the fruits, veggies, powders, supplements, etc., that we know we need, and empty out the pantry of the things we know we don’t. If it’s an exercise change, we run out and buy new workout shoes, new workout clothes, join a gym, and maybe even hire a personal trainer. One may up and quit their job, or put all their money into what looks like a no-lose investment, or spend all of their time in an unproductive hobby.
In situations like this, we are often left sitting there, shaking our heads, wondering how it all happened, where things went wrong, and how we could be so stupid, gullible, weak, or wrong. After enough failure, we start to adapt the identity of a failure, thinking that this is just who we are. The end result is a perpetuating cycle of excitement, followed by failure, or simply giving up.
I have a suggestion. Try adopting the 80/20 Goal. This means doing the right things — the things that you know will lead to the success you want in your life — only 80% of the time. Don’t worry about the other 20%. This is a guaranteed way to ensure continued growth and success, with much less pain and struggle.
This can be broken down several ways. When it comes to eating well, you can make 80% of your meals healthy, with the other 20% being not-so-healthy. You could also make your breakfast and lunch super healthy, but be a little lax on dinner. Or, my favorite, eat well all week long, but let loose a little bit on the weekends.
While you should be getting exercise every single day, including physical training four to five days per week could be enough. With the weekdays usually being a little more structured, get some form of physical exercise on those days, but chill out on the weekends. Or if you are shooting for one hour per day, make it forty-five minutes instead.
Because we are programmed for healthy living, making the effort for 80% of the time has two effects… it becomes easier and easier to make those better choices… and as you feel and function better, you will tend to migrate to more of a 90/10 Rule, where 90% of your choices start to become healthier.
The bottom line is, we tend to think in terms of all or nothing. We tend not to stick with it when trying to do it all, and we will suffer if we do nothing. So doing something becomes a pretty great choice. And 80% will still produce significant results, and is so much easier than doing 100%.
We have to remember that the wellness lifestyle is about having fun, creating powerful experiences, and living fully. The 80/20 Goal allows us to give our bodies more of what it needs to function, grow, and heal, without depriving us of the things we love and enjoy. It makes healthy living more doable and more consistent, and you will stick with healthier living longer.