I was reading recently an article on decision making as it pertains to a healthy lifestyle. It was written by Ryan Andrews. The article compared the differences between Consequence-based decision making and Identity-based decision making.
Consequence-based decision making is evaluating the issue at hand based on what will happen as a result. Because we usually focus on the now, this time of decision making usually leads to the most pleasurable outcome at the present time rather than what may happen down the road. An example pertaining to food would be eating out at a restaurant. You may know the healthiest choice to make and what would align with your goal to lose weight. But amid the atmosphere, the thought of how an unhealthy entree may taste and peer pressure from friends you make an unhealthy choice. The cost/benefit ratio done at that moment is in favor of pleasure rather than the overall goal to be healthy.
On the other hand, Identity-based decision making is evaluating the issue at hand based on who we are or, at the very least, who we want to be. When looking over the menu, you would ask yourself “what would someone like me order for dinner?”. The answer may be that you are someone committed to health, in control of your food choices and enjoys lighter fare for how it makes you feel.
Until you change your identity, you will always struggle with health based decisions. If you still see yourself as someone who is sedentary, overeats and doesn’t care about health, you will make choices accordingly. And even if you don’t yet see yourself as lean, healthy and in control of food choices, fake it ’til you make it. Negative self-talk will yield negative behaviors and choices. Positive self-talk will yield positive behaviors and choices.
As I read this article, I thought about my identity. I am someone who loves eating healthy food that makes me feel energized and strong. I don’t eat processed foods or fast food but instead choose high quality, real food. I am someone who enjoys treats now and again. I choose to exercise because I CAN rather than because I HAVE to and I do activities I love rather than those I think I should. My family means everything to me and many choices I make are based on what is best for all of us. Children permitting, I get adequate sleep each night. I am someone confident in my abilities and always looking for ways to improve.
That is my identity. Notice that I didn’t mention any of my weaknesses. Believe me I have them, but I chose not to focus on them. That can be hard especially since I am my own worst enemy, which is the case with most people. But if we are confident in our identity, we will be confident in our choices.
What is your identity? Please share!
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD