Motivation Articles

Think Two Steps Ahead

Find the BIG Picture

The house is a mess, the kids need a ride somewhere, you haven’t sat down in hours, and you have 10 minutes to eat something.

It’s 1 p.m., you’ve been working non-stop to finish a project because your boss is breathing down your neck, and it’s time for a quick, 20-minute lunch before getting back to the grind.

We often face situations similar to these two. Normally, we choose to think one step ahead. “I am tired, hungry and stressed out. I need to eat something quick. I don’t care what it is!” Unfortunately, those decisions come back to haunt us in the future, only adding to the stress already in our lives.

After a long day with the kids, doing laundry, reading books, and working on night school homework, you might have to decide between exercise and a couch that is screaming your name. Another difficult decision we face on a regular basis, and once again we often choose to think one step ahead. “I need to rest – I’m so drained!”

The difference between one step ahead and two steps ahead can mean the difference between staying on the fitness roller coaster or achieving your goals. Two steps ahead, we are still tired, stressed and cranky, BUT also determined, committed and able to see the big picture.

What is the BIG PICTURE? It’s different for everyone. Having a few thoughts that motivate and inspire you will help fight through step one and see that vision. Here are a few:
  • “My self-confidence is going to be so much higher because I’ve struggled through a difficult situation and found a way to conquer it!”
  • “I’ve had to find a way to deal with things during a very stressful time in my life. I can’t wait to see what I can do without all the stress!”
  • “I’m going to be able to keep up with my kids and be a part of their lives for a long time!”
  • “Why shouldn’t my health be the most important thing in my life – it doesn’t make me selfish, just smart!”
  • “If there is one thing I have complete control over, it’s my health. I am going to do whatever it takes to figure out a way because I have pride in who I am!”
"Step Two" reminds us how important consistency is in reaching our goals and helps us envision that beautiful feeling you get when you work hard to achieve something.

Start practicing now. Step One - “Oh, what a great idea. I should try that sometime, but I really have to go clean my oven.” Step Two – “What a great idea. I’m going to come up with three things that will motivate and inspire me each time I have to choose between a healthy and unhealthy decision, and I’m going to write them down so I see them on a regular basis! Now, I’m going to go clean my oven!”

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Member Comments

  • Thank you for a great article!
  • This article provided me with the right advice at the right time. Wrote down the ideas provided in my journal.
  • Thank you so much
  • This is a great article! It reminds me that I can't take care of anyone else if I don't take care of me first. I have a lot of responsibilities and tend to get overwhelmed quite often. Just like most of you reading this, I suppose. :-)
  • Lately, with the advice given in this article, I think I would have to be writing all the time! It seems temptation is there every minute of the day. So I am going to do this! I know that each time I resist, it will get a little easier the next time to make wise choices.
  • I love this article, it reminds me I can have a moan about my lack of time etc, BUT then, it's time to move forward, past that to step two! Just remembering there is a step two is a big victory for me. I am going to train myself to look for step two's this week!
  • I have started down this path of "two stepping", (hee)... I was buying lunch right before my shift. I was generally getting something not particularly healthy, but fast. Husband suggested, hey, you have all these veggies you are growing, can't you make soup and freeze it? I pondered this for a while. I then made up a batch of soup, froze it in pints, and tried taking it. I have saved a few pounds from the waist line, the guys I work with are always asking what I brought for lunch because it smells so gooooood, (large grin), and I have more $ in my pocket! Not bad for about an hour or two of work about once every week or so! I am still working on some other areas, but at least this is one I can cheer about!
  • Knowing one's value always helps in decision making. Knowing the true value of priorities is, as they say: priceless. Missing out on family activities, having so much stress you endanger your health and well being, these are results from not seeing value in ourselves and others. Like the poet said, "I shall walk this way but once."
  • Control is an illusion. What we do have, is the free will to make choices and no one is "too busy", to make healthy ones. If you don't have enough will power, trade in some excuses, and see the success you'll create.
    Good article overall. Even though not all of us have a clean bill of health or have family responsibilities, a well-presented concept overall. The word "control" brings up issues for many people. Perhaps substituting the word "choices" would have ruffled fewer feathers.

    I tend to make more-than-I -need whenever I cook. Then I mete out the extras in air-tight, water-tight containers and freeze or refrigerate for later use. These meals often end up being my meals on the go. At work I maintain a stock of fiber bars, healthy crackers, teas and fresh fruit. I'm lucky because my work has a fridge, so I've been known to bring low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, even healthy frozen meals -- to work.

    When I am going out to eat, I google the restaurant (even fast food ) . The majority have healthy menu choices, calorie counts, etc..... so I can have an idea what my options will be, if not my exact food order. I can also avoid certain places when no healthy options exist.... like waffles and fried chicken-type places or all-you can-eat venues....

    Sometimes it's not about budgets or time or scheduling or stress. It's just about not adding stuff to coffee, Not eating til I'm stuffed, Not watching so much TV....
    This was really something I could put into practice! I tend to take care of everything else first and then see what I have left over for me. But Step 3: also list the healthy alternatives where you can see them. The brain under stress is not good at generating ideas or solutions. So, if I can SEE my healthy choice, I can follow it! I can walk to the fridge with great intentions, but unless "good choice" jumps out at me, I may not even think of it.
  • When you are done cleaning the oven, can you come dust my bookshelves?

About The Author

Joe Downie Joe Downie
Joe, an exercise enthusiast, is a certified physical fitness instructor and high school soccer coach.