On February 14th of this year, I gave up soft drinks.
Prior to that, I had a habit of drinking five or six cans of soda a day. And then, one morning, it just occurred to me that I didn’t need sweetened (or even artificially sweetened) drinks in my life. So I quit drinking Coke Zero, Diet Coke, and all other soft drinks and started drinking water and unsweetened tea instead.
Friday, as part of the loyalty rewards program at a local theater, we got a coupon for a free soft drink.
For just a moment, I considered ordering a Coke Zero. Hey, it’s been seven months. Wouldn’t I enjoy the fizz, the coldness of it, the flavor? After months away from the stuff, this could even be seen as a unique opportunity: to experience something most people experience every day from a new and exotic perspective.
Plus: hey, it’s free!
I walked up to the counter. I ordered my popcorn. I pulled out my coupon.
I ordered unsweetened iced tea.
I’ve decided I don’t need soft drinks. I’ve resolved not to drink them any more, and I’m happy with that resolution (and the results). Why should being given a coupon for a free serving of something I don’t want or need prompt me to revisit that decision?
If you’ve stopped drinking soft drinks, someone will offer you a free one. (It’s free! Shouldn’t you take it?) If you’ve stopped eating sweets during the week, someone will give you cake on a Wednesday. (It’s rude not to eat a bite, right?) Once you start making better choices at mealtime, stress at work will almost certainly arise, encouraging you to pack that hole in your soul with food you don’t need. (You’ve had a hard day. You deserve some nachos!)
No matter what you’ve resolved — to lose weight, to start exercising, to write a book, to be a better person — there’s always a reason to give up. The Universe, in fact, is structured that way. Once you decide to achieve something good (good for you, or good for others) Resistance will rise up and throw obstacle after obstacle in your way.
The trick, I think, is to remember your larger goals.
I stopped drinking Cokes because I wanted to be healthier. Is a free Coke worth being unhealthy again?
I stopped eating sweets during the week to lose weight. Is eating that piece of cake on Wednesday the only way I can thank a friend for thinking of me?
I started eating better because I want a longer life with Clyde, more time to travel the planet, more years of health and happiness. Does it really make sense to let one hard day (or even a series of hard days) become a reason to set those goals aside?
Stay awake. Stay on target. Stick with your resolutions.
See every reason to give up as an opportunity to renew your commitments to yourself.