Health Lessons We Should Have Learned From the Fiscal Cliff Debate

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Image from StockMonkeys.com via Flickr

The debacle in Washington last week over the fiscal cliff debate reinforced a few lessons that we should have known by now. The polarization of our Congress makes getting anything accomplished next to impossible, and really explains why Americans thought so little of the 112th Congress. Hopefully things will improve now that a new Congress is in place, but I’m not holding my breath.

The fiscal cliff debate, and the subsequent passage of a watered down tax agreement, provided some valuable lessons about how the members of Congress need to work together for the betterment of regular citizens like you and I. These same lessons can be applied by many of us when it comes to our health.

  • Know What You’re Trying to Accomplish

During the debate in Washington, both sides claimed they were trying to protect the middle class from a tax increase. The right wanted to protect everyone from tax increases, while the left wanted the richest Americans to pay more. Both sides were firmly entrenched with what they wanted to get done.

Likewise, you need to know what you’re trying to do. Want to lose weight? Great, but how much? Want to exercise more? Fantastic, but what are you going to do? Without being decided about what you are trying to accomplish, it becomes difficult to anything done.

Decide what you are trying to do, and do what it takes to finish the job.

  • Be Willing to Compromise

Congress sucked at this right up until the very end. But in the end, each side did what they needed to do to complete the first part of the task. The right gave a little by allowing for some increased taxation, and the left raised the limit for those who would have to pay more.

Some on both sides hated the compromise. Which is how you know it wasn’t a bad deal.

When it comes to your health, you need to know when to stand your ground and when it’s ok to compromise.

Don’t feel like exercising today? Stand your ground and make yourself do something. But go ahead and compromise to an activity you enjoy more than what was originally planned. Just do something.

Trying to quit smoking? No compromise! Stand your ground! It’ll be tough, but it’ll be worth it.

Working on your diet? Stand your ground most of the time, but if you are in a situation that requires compromise it’ll be ok. Just limit the poor food choices and you’ll be successful in the end.

In most instances, you don’t have to be perfect to achieve weight loss and improved health. When you feel like you can’t make the best decisions all of the time, it’s ok to compromise a little.

It’s these compromises that will keep you on the right path to ultimately succeed.

Did you get that Washington?

  • Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

The President commented recently that Congress likes to wait until the last possible second to get anything done.

He is right. And it’s sad.

When you wait until the last possible moment it becomes much more difficult to get anything done. Everything has to go right, and one little hiccup can through everything into disarray.

If you are trying to lose weight, or are training for an event, the more time you give yourself to succeed the better your chances are. Losing 20 lbs in 2 weeks is almost impossible, buy doing so in a few months is totally achievable.

By setting your goal and getting started on it ASAP, you give yourself the best chance of realizing success. Maybe if Washington started seriously negotiating a deal 2 years ago, instead of waiting until there were 4 weeks until going over the cliff, a better deal could have been reached.

Stop waiting to begin and just get started.

  • Don’t Stop Until the Job is Done

The deadline for reaching a deal on the fiscal cliff was to be midnight on January 1st. When a deal wasn’t complete, Congress came back to work the next day and finished hammering out a deal to avoid tax hikes for everyone.

They missed the target, but in the end they completed the task.

Maybe you want to run a 10k race in less than an hour.

Or you are trying to fit into a size 8 for your 40th birthday.

If you don’t quite make it there, don’t just give up! Keep pushing until you ultimately succeed.

There are other races to run. And there are other events you can wear your dress to.

When you set your goals, achieving your goals is the most important thing. Achieving them by some self-imposed deadline is secondary.

If Washington could ever get out of its own way, it might just be useful. Less bickering, more doing, and maybe we as Americans wouldn’t be so frustrated with them.

But from time to time, the chaos of Washington can help shed some light onto areas that we can improve on in our own lives.

Get out of your way and make healthy living happen. The complete change won’t be evident overnight, but if you keep pushing forward, it will happen eventually.

Just don’t let some metaphorical cliff get in your way.

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