You May Know What You Want, But What Do You Expect?

Why Your Desire Will Trip You Up - Every Time

by Joshua Wayne, MA

I was working with a new client recently and she asked me an interesting question.  She said,

“Why do I have such trouble following through on my weight loss plan?  I really want to lose weight.  In fact, I desperately want to lose 30 pounds!  I start out doing very well, and lose 5-10 pounds in the first couple weeks, but then I lose my focus.  I can’t even tell you why… something always comes up and I fall off course.  Am I sabotaging my success?”

Does this sound at all familiar?  Do you have a strong desire to lose weight, and yet for some reason the motivation necessary to follow through is difficult to generate or sustain?

If so, I have a little ‘secret’ I’d like to share with you.  As common sense as it will sound, I can tell you from many years of experience that most people miss it entirely.  I learned it myself from one of my mentors, Joseph Riggio.  

Once you get this simple principle, it can revolutionize the way you think about your weight loss goals forever:

We always live up to our expectations, not our desires!

Let’s go back to my conversation with the client I was just telling you about.   Hearing her frustration, I questioned her a bit further and she told me she wanted to lose 30 pounds in 6 months.  On the surface, a very reasonable goal, and with a good plan it should be very attainable.  

Knowing the ‘secret’ I just shared with you, I said,

“So I hear that you want to lose 30 pounds in 6 months and that sounds great, but what do you actually expect is going to happen?

She was quiet for a good while as she thought about it and finally said, as if a light bulb had gone off in her head,

“If I’m completely honest with myself here, what I really expect to happen is that I’ll do good for about 6 weeks…I’ll eat well and get to the gym and lose about 10 pounds or so…but then something will happen.  For instance, I’ll have a difficult situation at work, and I’ll be there late and end up eating pizza at 10 o’clock at night…and pretzels and whatever else is around.  I’ll tell myself that I’ll get back on track tomorrow, but something else will come up… and before I know it a month has passed and I’m right back where I started!”

Again, sound familiar?  

Maybe for you it’s a mother-in-law coming to town for a visit, and that creates a lot of stress.  

Or maybe you expect that one night you’ll just feel particularly lonely, and those cookies and ice cream really seem like they’d be a nice companion for the evening.

So what is happening here?  My client, and perhaps you as well, actually expects to get off track.  She expects to only lose 10 pounds instead of her desired 30.  Maybe she, or you, will manage to keep that 10 pounds off…maybe not.  Again, this largely depends on your expectations.

The point is, regardless of what you think you want, where your expectation lies is where you will wind up.  The trick, then, is to begin working with your expectations, not your desires.

When you begin working with your expectations rather than your desires:

➢    Your plan won’t get derailed
➢    You won’t be setting yourself up for failure
➢    You won’t keep resurrecting the same frustrations over and over again

Now, it’s possible that your expectations already match what you desire.  If this is the case then good for you!  You will find yourself making great progress with relative ease.

If they are not matched, however, then you first have to honestly look at where your expectations lie.  So the first thing to do is get yourself in a clear, calm state of mind.  Go take a quick brisk walk or just take some deep breaths to focus your mind.  Turn off the phone and television and just sit with yourself for a minute, and fill in the blanks to the following question:

What I want is _______; what I truly expect is _______.

Be brutally honest.  It doesn’t matter what the answer is.  You have to start where you’re honestly at.  Instead of setting yourself up for failure, break down your desire into smaller increments of expectation.  If you realize that your expectation is to only lose 3 pounds instead of 30, that’s okay.  Start there!  Make this your goal for now.  It’s still a very good goal.  
When you have achieved it, celebrate that success and decide what is next.  Perhaps you will then find that you genuinely expect to lose 5 more pounds- or even 10.  The more you succeed, the more you will expect of yourself. Success breeds success.

What if you realize that ultimately you truly expect to fail?  If you find yourself in a situation where your expectation is endless self-sabotage and more of the same, don’t worry.  Hope is not lost!  You need to learn new skills that will strengthen your relationship to yourself, your body and food.  As you practice these skills, stronger, healthier expectations will form.  So stay tuned, because I will be introducing these tools in future articles that will be sent out to the Tip Of The Day email list and also the list you join when you sign up for PEERtrainer.

To Your Health and Happiness,

Joshua Wayne, MA

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Josh WayneJoshua Wayne, MA is a Personal Development Coach and trained psychotherapist with an emphasis on weight loss motivation and mind/body wellness.

In his private practice Joshua has helped his clients achieve their weight loss goals, shape their life direction and resolve a wide range of family problems from relationship difficulties to out of control teenagers.

Joshua has a Masters Degree in Counseling.  He has also been intensely interested in and studying personal development, fitness and spirituality for close to 20 years.  Joshua also heads up the PEERtrainer 12 Week "Point Of No Return" Coaching Program.