Who are you not?

Oct 26, 2016

Carl Jung said You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. My version: We aren’t what we don’t do, even if we really want to be.

Do you want to be a regular meditator, a three-time-a-week runner, a painter or a volleyball player? Unless you’re actually engaged in your activity of choice, you’re a wanna-be. Harsh, I know, but it’s true. Here’s how it can look in real life:

As a cancer survivor, my top priority is my health. I want to live a long, happy & healthy life with no more big health surprises. I have some advantages: in my previous work life, I was a nutritionist with all the education, training and experience that goes along with that. I’m also a trained chef, so making healthy food is a snap. And I love to move, so regular exercise is a craving. Ergo, I’m as healthy as I can be, right? Um, not really.

Since I have so much knowledge and training, I assumed I’m making all the right moves on a regular basis. Never mind that the scale, my clothes and my energy level didn’t exactly scream “healthy-ass person!”  In my mind, I was. I finally had a little come-to-Jesus with myself and laid it all out: I’m healthy, no question, and I am much stronger and fitter than I was a year ago. But not at the level I want to be. So I pulled out all the tools and recommendations I’d give to my clients. I dusted off my food diary and force myself to complete it no matter how ugly the eating gets (funny story: yesterday I found myself typing in “Tostitos”). I set goals for how much water to drink (10+ glasses a day), and how much wine (not a drop for a month), how often to meditate (every dang morning for a month) and how often to exercise (3 strength training sessions plus 2 runs per week). I’m taking the very necessary, but not always done, next step of tracking my activity. Everything I eat and drink goes into my food diary. I get a gold star on the calendar for every day I meditate and another for having club soda instead of red wine. My Apple watch has become my drill sergeant, telling me when I reach my move goals. The result so far? I feel like a million bucks, I’m performing better in my workouts and I’m strutting around in a jean size I haven’t worn since last year. My success is happening because I finally put my money where my mouth is.

It’s magical thinking to say we’re a certain sort of someone while not doing the actually activity that supports it. And up until recently, I was the most magicky magical thinker I know. So – who do you want to be, what do you want to do, how do you want to be able to describe yourself? Next question: are you doing what needs to be done to back up your claim?

Having trouble getting started? This’ll do the trick: Tell everyone you know about it. I’ve done this several times with much success. It works because I don’t want people asking how it’s going and me saying “Um, I haven’t really gotten to it . . . Definitely will, maybe, soon . . .” Feel free to try this yourself.

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