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How to Make the Better Choice

Raise your hand if you’re a perfectionist. As a recovering perfectionist myself, I understand the desire to wait until something is “done” (ie “perfect”) before putting it out for public consumption. That urge infiltrates and affects all our actions, or, rather, inactions. We get stymied trying to figure out the best way to do something – analysis paralysis. When you’re looking for the best you lose sight of the good.

The best is the enemy of the good. -Voltaire

Now that we’re into February it feels like safer grounds to talk about change with a bit less pressure (albeit maybe not quite as fertile). The quick and easy bottom line is this: Seek out the better option, even if it’s not the best option.

Consider a desire to eat healthy. Though healthy eating habits are considered universal (fresher foods, more fruits and veggies, less salt, fat, and sugar), good options for someone trying to improve their habits is more about what is healthier than their current habits than what is the healthiest of all options. When you’re working to make improvements and build better habits, starting at the end goal can be a recipe for disaster when you want set yourself up for success. If someone who eats fast food twice a day with fatty, sugary snacks thrown in for good measure, a drastic shift to salads and fish can feel like deprivation and misery. Instead of looking for the best option, look for a better option. If you’d normally order a double bacon cheeseburger with fries, try a (grilled) chicken sandwich. Or take smaller steps and get a regular burger and maybe the side salad (get your dining partner to get the fries and steal a couple off their plate – it’s still better than eating a whole serving yourself). Even if food isn’t your area for improvement, you see where I’m going with this, right?

Set your end goal (make it measurable) and then break it down into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Let’s break it down:

Example: I want to be more active.

Current Reality: I live a sedentary lifestyle.

Ultimate Goal: I exercise for at least 30 minutes, 4 times a week.

Gateway Goal: I’ll park in the farthest parking spot from my destination and will walk. Or, I’ll take the stairs instead of the elevator. (This is your entry habit so make it easy and doable)

Middle Ground: I’ll walk around my neighborhood for 15 minutes every other day at 8:30am (this comes after the Gateway Goal is cemented in your actions and comes naturally for you.)

Middle Ground 2.0: I’ll walk/go for a hike/bike/do yoga/go to the gym for 30 minutes every other day at 8:30am. (This should be easier on the heels of the initial Middle Ground Goal, if you find yourself slipping here, dial it back a bit. The point is to continue doing the thing in whatever way gets you to actually do it).

Ultimate Goal: You already reached it in Middle Ground 2.0! Adjust the days each week to hit 4 days every week. (Sneaky, sneaky Middle Ground 2.0... I see you over there reaching your goals. Good job!)

Do you want to make more calls to your sphere? Spend dedicated time studying the market? Ask for more referrals? Hold more open houses? Build up your knowledge and skills? Send out regular emails? Actually farm your neighborhood?

Making incrementally better choices will help you get to your “best” as defined by your ultimate goal. Don’t look for the best choice, look for the better choice and you’ll far exceed the elusive “best”.

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