Small Steps Help Curtail Excuses

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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I am finding that change is so much easier when I tackle the changes I want to make with small, short-term goals in mind. I’ve heard that advice in the past and it’s always been a “feel-good” message. However, now I’m seeing its impact when I apply the principles of being specific and setting time limits.

I heard Dave Ramsey share on a podcast his keys for achieving goals, and I subsequently read his blog post on the subject. Two of the keys he promotes are to be specific and to set a time limit.

Lately, I’ve been bothered with my soda consumption and knowing how all that sugar keeps me from building a healthy body. The excuse of how perfectly a soda enhances a meal kept me ordering an overpriced cola every time I ate out. 

My excuses regarding my eating habits have also hindered my progress in the gym.

A few weeks ago, I finally drew a thin, somewhat faint line in the sand. I committed to a “no-fast-food July” and no soda for three weeks, leading up to a particular event that will be my reward for the discipline I’ve exercised lately.

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Instant gratification

I’m sure most of us want something to change right now — or maybe by tomorrow. As much as instant gratification has taken over our society, there are still areas where only time and discipline set the stage for change.

I’d love to have $10 million in the bank, a mansion in the mountains, and a sprawling beachfront home, as well as a spouse and the average 2.5 kids. Of course, I still want my six-pack abs. But we all know those things don’t come easily.

Even if I won the lottery tomorrow, the spouse and kids take time. So do those abs.

Facing my vice

For the longest time, soda with a meal has been a vice of mine. Especially with pizza or Mexican food, nothing goes better than a good old-fashioned cola. I’ve never been one just to sip a cola on its own. I only have one with food. 

I remember participating in a clinical drug trial a few years back that required a fairly strict diet. To follow the rules, I had to cut out fast food, my typical chips and salsa snack, and a bunch of basic, processed, high-fat, unhealthy foods.

Before I knew the details, I knew this would be an adjustment. But what concerned me the most was my love of soda and my Starbucks addiction. Thankfully, beverages were not much of an issue with this particular diet protocol. I didn’t have to cut them out, I just had to cut back. In other words, I didn’t have to surrender, but I certainly had to reassess.

Cutting back was easy for me. Cutting out completely is a different story.

Small steps

Having a short-term time limit in mind and making small adjustments have been fairly easy to tackle. Granted, when I went to the movie theater and saw “Spiderman: Far From Home” last weekend, I really wanted popcorn and a Coke. As tempting as it was in the moment, I felt better leaving the theater knowing I hadn’t consumed that junk while also saving roughly $87. That’s the amount it felt like I was saving anyway.

I still have a long way to go. But by eliminating my excuses for eating or drinking poorly I have reinforced to myself that anything is possible with commitment and discipline.


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