Being a high performer comes in really handy this time of year. This is when food bombards our senses everywhere we go. I fondly call the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s “Feast Season”.
One of the major tenets of being a high performer is mastering your mind. When you are the master, you control your choices and actions. When you aren’t the master, you live at the whim of your mind. Will you help yourself to that second (or fourth) piece of candy, that second drink, yet another plate of food, and another dessert because you figure you can start your new diet in the new year? Or, will you stick to your foundational lifestyle decisions and eat only what is good for you?
The festivities that abound this time of year sure provide lots of temptation. When you aren’t the master of your mind and have habits that support your chosen way of life, your resilience to temptation is weakened. Deciding just before Feast Season starts to “be good” and not over-indulge is rarely sufficient to keep your determination strong. The mindset of healthy indulgence takes well-ingrained and practiced habits to be maintained and sustained. That mindset is more than just a decision, though even starting with a decision is a good start.
You need to master your mind to go beyond being a puppet to the whims of delicious-looking and smelling foods, the celebratory energy in the air, and being tired and therefore weak. Start with a decision to be healthier as you enjoy parties and peoples’ company. Move on to creating habits that support your decision. Take action on the decision and practice those new habits daily. Practice makes perfect.
Too much food is only one challenge we face this time of year. Too little exercise is another, and is part of that same issue of not having mastered your mind. There are so many reasons to not exercise! You have shopping to do and gifts to wrap, food to cook, and don’t forget there’s a house to clean — not to mention getting your regular job done. Oh, and the parties to attend, the cards to send, and holiday concerts to enjoy — they all take your time, leaving exercise on the to-do-later list.
Creating new habits is one step. Reactivating habits that have been languishing in your life is another step. To help start or reactivate habits, tie them to an activity you regularly perform. Let that regular activity trigger the new habit. For example, if you have a pattern of stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work, require yourself to go to the gym first before doing your grocery shopping. Another example could be that when you grocery shop after work, you only walk the perimeter of the store where the whole and healthy foods are stocked. The first pattern ensures you exercise, the second pattern keeps you out of the junk food and deep in the healthy food.
Those two examples demonstrate some ways you can develop mind mastery. As you master your mind, you will be able to rise above the temptations that Feast Season wraps us in. A mastered mind keeps us living to higher standards, and the results of those higher standards support a healthy and joyous life. Living a healthy and joyous life is satisfying and keeps us motivated to continue being high performers.
Now, if you fall to temptation because you haven’t mastered your mind, you can start taking control today. I know I said earlier that a decision often wasn’t sufficient enough. But, it’s a start. Start by creating rules for how you will allow yourself to behave at parties and around tempting foods. Create rules for how you will exercise. Put reminders up to help you remember what your intentions are. Reminders can be posted in your phone, on the bathroom mirror or computer monitor, and inside the refrigerator. You may not be perfect at it yet, but it beats the alternative of being a slave to bad habits.
Don’t wait until next year to start creating and acting on new and healthy habits. Start your high performance living today by deciding to take charge. That’s the path to success — deciding and acting.