It's time again for my quasi-annual diet. So far, I am off to a good start, losing four pounds so far this month. And here is the best part: I haven't really been trying to diet.
My good friend Maureen Anderson, host of the syndicated Career Clinic radio show, recently got in touch with me about a diet where she simply eats the right things, in ways she enjoys, and her weight takes care of itself. (And she has what sounds like a heck of a book project planned in the near future – stay tuned.)
So I decided to take a page from her book, and tried a new breakfast drink: a cup and a half of skim milk, a half cup of uncooked 1-minute oatmeal, and half a banana in the blender every morning. It is creamy, delicious, fat-free, and very satisfying. So now, with perhaps the best-tasting breakfast I have had in years, I seem to be losing weight. We'll see how it goes from here.
But I didn't really blog about this to share diet advice. Rather, there is a life lesson in here that really resonates with me.
Most advice I read about dieting – or finances – or success – or anything else good in life seems to invariably get out the hair shirt. Give up your burgers for carrot sticks and thin gruel, and you'll lose weight. Pare your expenses to the bone and you'll get rich. Keep your nose to the grindstone and you'll succeed.
I honestly think these people are lying to me. Here's why:
• Whenever I've tried to diet by eating bland, unsatisfying food, I've never really lost weight. It just made life seem insufferable until I gave up. But now that I am finding ways to make my diet even more delicious with the right foods, I'm starting to lose.
• When I tried to "work harder" at jobs I didn't really enjoy, I just did mediocre work a little faster. Making a living doing what I love has being going great guns for a long time.
• Whenever I tried to save money by doing without, I never got anywhere. (For example, how many movies do you have to skip to scrape up, say, the down payment for a house? About four billion.) Making more money in the first place, doing what I enjoy, seems to work a lot better for me.
Now, realistically, logic would tell me that the hair shirt types have a point. Clearly, you need a certain amount of self-discipline to succeed. We all know people who crash and burn because they have no self-control. And we all know people who are self-disciplined and get ahead as a result.
But here is my theory – I think that both of these kinds of people are outliers on the curve. Because most really successful people I know don't seem to spend most of their time doing things that are hard. Instead, it's lots and lots of easy. Their path is filled with pleasure, and their pleasure ultimately leads them where they want to go. And as I look back over the ups and downs of my own 55 years and counting, that's what seems to work best for me too. What do you think?