Before you reach for Psychology 101, let me just clarify: 'outcome anxiety' is not an official diagnosis. It's a name I've given to a phenomenon I have repeatedly observed in my own clients on their healthy nutrition journey.
Outcome anxiety is a trick the mind plays on the most determined dieter: the goal itself becomes the undoing of the whole endeavour.
And the bigger the ambition, the more acutely 'outcome anxiety' seems to hit.
Imagine your goal is to lose 3 stone and you're just 3 weeks into a healthy eating programme. Looking at this goal, and all the habits you're going to be changing, the decisions you're going to have to make, the temptations you're going to have to resist, it can seem like an endless journey to get there.
In reality, what you really would like, is to lose 3 stone RIGHT NOW, and be able to fit into those skinny jeans THIS Saturday. Wouldn't it be great to eliminate the uncertainty that lies ahead - the fear of losing your motivation somewhere along the way?
So basically what's happening is...
The fear of losing your motivation, the fear of failing is what causes you to lose your motivation and to fail. Twisted, huh?
It's also the mindset which diet pills and 'fast weight loss' plans have been cashing in on for so many years.
If it helps, you are certainly not the first to feel like this, and most probably won't be the last. Throughout history, famous thinkers have provided the same advice, from Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu ("Every journey, no matter how long begins with one step.") to Martin Luther King Jr ("You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."). Whether you are looking to lose weight or inspire nations, wanting the end result RIGHT NOW is definitely a recipe for failure.
One step at a time
Half the battle is just to recognise what's happening. Awareness removes the power from the fear! And then simply to take it one step at a time.
Just like one of my clients recently. One day, a few weeks into his nutrition weight loss programme, he came to me and said: "You know I think I've cracked it, I'm focusing on the process, not the outcome and actually I'm enjoying it all a lot more!" As soon as he started doing this, his results began to improve dramatically.
So why not try this for yourself? Enjoy the process, and remember: your ultimate goal should inspire you, never crush you!
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