A really annoying, semi frustrating, but very insightful way to find out if your behaviors are aligning with your true desires and motivations is to take one of your goals, behaviors, habits or beliefs ask yourself “why?”.
Then ask yourself “why?” again.
Then, “why?” again.
And at least one more time after that for a total of 5 or more times.
Treat yourself like a 3 year old would, persistently asking “why?” until you arrive at a useful answer or you’re in a philosophical tailspin and you no longer know your own name.
If it gets uncomfortable, good. It should. If it’s uncomfortable, you may well on your way to arriving at a conclusion that you never expected.
Then, determine whether or not your behaviors and surface motivations align with your true motivations and self. If they are, great! If not, maybe you should change up what you’re doing.
You can’t keep doing the same things that are aligned with a short term thought, feeling or behavior and thinking you’ll come up with the result you really want.
This exercise might go something like this:
Belief, Goal or Habit: “I’ll be happy when I lose 15 pounds.”
Why do you want to lose 15 pounds?
“Because then I’ll weigh what I did 10 years ago.”
Why do you want to weigh what you did 10 years ago?
“Because then I’ll fit better in my clothes.”
Why do you want to fit better in your clothes?
“Because then I’ll be more confident.”
Why do you want to be more confident?
Because then I’ll have the courage to do the things I want to do in life.
What are the things you want to do, but aren’t doing in life?
“You know what I really want? I really want to go to this beach in Hawaii that I went to when I was in college, and I want to feel great in my swimsuit.”
Wow, now we’re getting to some good stuff!
This doesn’t have to just be for fitness or nutrition related things either. It’s great for work and relationship goals as well.
“I have to go into work on Saturday this week.”
Why do you have to go into work this Saturday?
“Because I have to get some extra projects finished up.”
Why do you need to get those projects finished up?
“Because I really want to keep my boss happy.”
Why do you want to keep your boss happy?
“So someday I can get a promotion.”
Why do you need a promotion?
“So I can have more responsibility, a better title and make more money.”
Why do you want more responsibility, a better title and more money?
“These things will grant me more success in life, and will therefore let me retire earlier”
Why do you want to retire earlier?
"So I’ll have time to do the things I want to do."
I think you see where I’m going with this example. Neither of these take a rocket scientist to figure out, and the practice itself may not always lead to something earth shattering. But I assure you that the process will be enlightening and informative and will dramatically help you with decisions and behaviors.
You may realize that your desire for a “six pack” is really a desire to feel confident enough to have fun in a Summer group atmosphere. Is doing a crash, low carb diet going to make you more fun in a Summer group atmosphere?
I doubt it.
You’ll probably become somewhat of a recluse for a while because you can’t eat anything that anyone else is eating, and if you allow yourself one sip of alcohol after abstaining for 8 weeks, you’ll probably just go to sleep.
You may realize that your afternoon glasses of wine aren’t about your love for wine or relaxing, but are really a crutch for a job/life that you hate.
That’s some deep shit, but if you’re willing to explore it, you’ll be able to align your behaviors better with what you really want.
So, next time you find yourself with a thought, belief or behavior that you’re sure of, take a second to question it. Then again, again, and again (and again) until you explore the root of it all and can be confident of your conclusion.