I had a couple good examples recently where trusting the process benefited me that I thought I’d share.
The first happened this past week at work. The weather forecast was for 3-5 inches of snow during the day followed by rain. The snow didn’t start until about 10am so my drive into work was uneventful, especially since it seemed most people stayed home based on the lighter than normal traffic. My plan was to work a full day and head home normal time. I figured the commute would be better as the snow plows had more time to work on the roads and most people would have started to leave about noon meaning even fewer people on the roads five hours later. The roads looked awful at noon (online traffic cams are awesome!) when my co-workers started filing out of the office, however I stuck to my plan and hung around. By the time I ended up leaving work for the day, the roads were wet but completely clear and there was virtually no one else out and about. Score one for the process.
The other example is a Biggest Loser challenge I’m involved with at work. There are team and individual aspects to our challenge, but essentially the person and team that loses the most weight wins. The truth is I’m already at a fairly healthy weight so am using this more as esprit de corps within our group than an actual means to losing weight. This doesn’t mean I’m at my optimal weight or live a completely clean lifestyle though. So I decided to use this as an opportunity to become a little healthier.
I came up with 3 things that would make me healthier and in turn should lead to weight loss. I decided to cut out all junk food (chips, sodas, desserts), do 5-10 minutes of core exercises daily, and cut down to 1 beer a day. I picked three relatively small things because I thought it would be easier to do this than 1 large thing each day. Also, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do any one of them every day so by having three I can mess up one and still feel like I’m making progress. Heck, I can even miss on 2 of them and still not get overly discouraged. This has helped keep me consistent during the challenge and kept me on track.
This is a 12 week challenge and we’re doing weigh ins every other week. My weight was unchanged after the first 2 weeks, however I’ve managed to lose a couple pounds in each of the last 2 weigh ins. Weight management can be a very tricky thing and a lot of times weight alone won’t tell you whether you’re healthier or not. It doesn’t tell you if you’ve swapped fat for muscle. It doesn’t tell you if you’re retaining water or are severely dehydrated. Heck, it can fluctuate by 2-4 pounds per day so it’ll change depending on when you decide to weigh yourself.
It can be so difficult in this day and age of instant information and constant feedback to stick with your plan when the available data tells you you’re offtrack. During my snow day, I had coworkers passing my desk every little bit heading home because the road conditions were so bad. The assumption being that if they’re bad now they will only be worse later. If all these people are telling me one thing, why didn’t I leave? Because I trusted my process/plan. Just like I didn’t bail on my weight-loss/health-gain strategy after not seeing any improvement after 2 weeks.
Trusting the process is all about tuning out the noise and keep doing what you’re doing. It’s about expanding your time horizon past rightnow and thinking in terms of weeks and months and even years. You definitely need to measure results and outcomes, but look at them within the context of the trend with a decent amount of wiggle room. If your process isn’t leading to improvements, then definitely adjust. But adjust small and infrequently. You should not need large adjustments unless you’ve got a bad process.
Speaking of which. Invest the time upfront thinking about your process. The more time and effort you put into coming up with a good process, the easier it is to trust that it will get you where you want to go. If you just threw your plan together on the spur of the moment not only will it be harder to trust, but it’s more likely not to lead you to your promised land.
And even though my scale had me up a couple pounds when I weighed myself this morning, I’m not concerned. I’m still executing my process well so am confident that I’m living healthier now than I was 2 months ago. And at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.