What Don’t You Want? (And Why Sometimes That’s a Good Question)

Deciding what you don’t want can be almost as important as deciding what you do want.

This is the time of year when everyone talks about what they want to manifest in the new year: healthier life, better eating, beastly fitness, better job, etc. There is much merit in drawing a target on the board and aiming for it. Positive energy begets positive energy!

Go old school! Write those goals down!

But what if you don’t know what you want? Or if you want a whole bunch of things? (In the infamous words of Freddie Mercury: “I want it all. I want it all. I want it all. And I want it now.”) Maybe you want to be smarter, richer, better looking, AND stronger, but you’re not sure in what order. All you know is that right now you’re not exactly where you want to be and you’re not quite who you want to be.

That’s when it can be helpful to decide what you do NOT want.

For example: “I don’t want to feel like crap anymore.”

I can remember sitting in my first CrossFit nutrition lecture in February, 2008 and hearing Nicole Carroll say, “Most people are so used to feeling like crap that they don’t realize they don’t have to feel that way. They can feel better—and it starts with what they eat.”

Whoa. Light bulb moment. I started checking in with myself:

Did I feel like crap? (Sometimes, even though I was a gym owner.)

Did I want to feel better? (Yes!)

What could I do right then to start feeling better? (“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.”)

Mmmm. Did somebody mention meat?

So it all began: The realization that not only was nutrition tied to performance in the gym, but that good nutrition was also tied to simply feeling better—and that elevating myself above the crap-feeling level was the first step. I could elevate my lifting and my life, and it all would start with the decision to stop settling for less:

  • Stop settling sometimes for easy (but not good) food
  • Stop settling for dirty food (instead of clean food)
  • Stop settling for okay performance instead of taking the tougher drive to PR City

Suddenly, the Did Nots illuminated the Dids, and they all led to the Stop That and Start This. If I did not want these paths, then it was time to stop walking down them.

You can use this same tactic! It’s handy in the decision process, especially when you’re confronted with several options (example: Orange Theory, Barre, CrossFit) and you can decide what you don’t want. (Well, obviously you don’t want the first two choices. Duh. You knew I was going to say that!) Or you can choose among other options:

  • Pizza? Nope. I don’t want to feel sleepy.
  • Beer? Nope. I don’t want to feel bloated.
  • Cake? Nope. I don’t want to spike and crash.

After you decide what you do not want, then you can pick what you do and start working towards those goals. (And of course you can get started by stocking your kitchen with Steve’s Grass-Fed Rib-Eye Steaks and plenty of Maple Bacon PaleoKrunch.)

So the process is simple. Ask yourself two questions:

  1. What don’t I want?
  2. What do I want?

And then one more question: How can I make those dreams into realities? Write it down, make a plan and get going!

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