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Moderation is Overrated


I have no problem with eating healthy  I do it all the time. I can say no to sweets, fried stuff and jumbo portions. As long as Im all in.

This week I've been telling my wife, I am embracing hunger." I almost believe myself.

What trips me up every time is when I decide its time to introduce some moderation back into my diet. I'll just eat one cookie, maybe a couple of chips and what could it hurt if I ate a fry off my childs plate?

And then faster than you can say Paula Dean I find myself going back for thirds at the all you can eat cholesterol bar and seriously contemplating whether or not I've got room for a dessert named Death by Chocolate.

What happened?

Here's my theory: motivation is fueled by momentum. The more all in and committed you are to your goal, whether it be dietary or financial, the more momentum you've got. Its a cycle that starts with an initial step of motivation. Often the motivation starts when one is experiencing the consequences of your current path of poor choices (you're feeling fat, or you're broke by the 7th of the month).

But the initial thrust of disgust wears off eventually. You need something to maintain your motivation. And that's where momentum comes in! You've got to be "all in" to keep up your momentum. To keep making progress.

Then comes the inevitable season where you feel it might just be time to reward all that good behavior just a bit in moderation. Unfortunately this often comes before you've really gotten your act together and reached your goal, so it is premature. Your new habits have not been solidified, so your moderation leads to compromise.

You fall off the wagon and tell yourself all that motivation stuff doesn't work.

Not true. It does work. But is can be sabotaged rather easily.

So when it comes to making life changes -- physical or financial, bodily or budgetarily, I recommend you start out "all in" and leave no room for compromise.

Your initial decision will give momentum to your motivation. Your momentum will drive you towards your goal faster, providing further motivation. This self feeding cycle will continue until you interrupt it, so don't.

Moderation is overrated.

Byron is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of the Planning Group at Argent Advisors, Inc.
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