If you have been around us (Nancy and/or I) very long, you have probably heard us say at some point something along the lines of "If you want to be successful, make things easier."
it makes sense. If things are easy, you are more likely to actually do them.
But then I realized that could be a double edged sword.
As I was thinking (dangerous I know) about the eating habits of our clients who have had great success with reaching their weight loss and body comp goals and what got them there, I realized that in many cases, making things harder actually works better.
Principle: We consume less when it's harder to consume.
Here's a simple illustration. I love potato chips. If there are potato chips around, Dean is going to eat them - lots of them. My strategy to not eat them? Don't have them in the house and available to eat! If I am REALLY craving those crispy kettle fried delights, I have to get up, put my shoes on, go out in whatever weather we are having, get in the car, drive to the store and back - the whole thing. I can tell you that 99.9% of the time, it's not worth the trouble, so I don't do it.
This weekend I was giving a presentation on cash management to about 60 of my peers in the fitness industry, and it dawned on me the strategy I was outlining works exactly the same way. Many business owners have difficulty coming up with their quarterly tax payments. They know they need to save for taxes, but don't have a good strategy of regular savings, so it doesn't get done. So here's what we do; have them take the money they need to save out of their Operating Expense account and put it into a separate savings account. But NOT at the same bank. We have them set up a savings account at another bank, and transfer the money to that "offsite" account. Why? Because if it's in the same bank as their Operating Expense account, it becomes very easy to "borrow" it if they run into a cash flow crunch. Because it's in another bank, and will take at least 3 days to transfer back in, that slows the process down enough to allow them to realize there is most likely another way to take care of the "crisis", which in reality the present situation rarely is. By making it harder to access the cash, it encourages that habits they wanted to create in the first place. Paying their taxes and staying out of jail - BONUS!
For my birthday last week Nancy bought me a "pour over" cone to make my morning coffee. Besides making an incredible cup of coffee, making it this way has the added benefit of reducing my coffee consumption, simply because it takes awhile to complete the process. You have to heat the water to the correct temperature, grind the coffee, and do the "pour over", which takes 3 to 5 minutes in itself. A lot more complex than turning on the drip machine! The result is that I am making less coffee, and thus drinking less coffee. Making the process harder helped me achieve the results I was looking for; drink less (more delicious) coffee.
You could apply this strategy to just about anything food related. Love pizza but want to eat less? Don't eat pizza unless you make it yourself. Ice cream? Buy an ice cream maker and only have it when you make your own. You get the picture.
So while the "make things easier on yourself" shouldn't get thrown out the window (Want to eat more veggies? Make it easier by having them in the fridge, for example), sometimes harder is the way to go.
How could you apply this strategy in your life. Love to hear your thoughts!