Urgency Vs. Intensity: Implications for Long-Term Success
One of the biggest mindset switches that occurred for me back in 2011 when I started eating #moderation365 was taking a long-view approach to all things physique and food-related.
And it was absolutely terrifying.
Up until that point, I’d only ever operated with deadlines in mind: when I was going to start my new diet, or when my diet would be over so I could finally eat anything I wanted again.
We do this, don’t we? We get so freaking excited to start a new meal plan, only to count days the days until we can stop doing it!
Or over time, as was the case for me, just fall off of it completely because the deprivation and mental energy required to stay “on plan” became too great — to the point that I could barely get through a day without “cheating” and then beating myself up over it.
I remember only time literally saying out loud to myself, “Really Jill, you can’t go one fucking day without a treat??!”
But I see now that the all-or-nothing approach to eating was only perpetuating feelings of failure and urgency. My entire life was one big deadline. Soon certain foods would be off-limits, so I’d definitely have to eat everything right now.
And constantly operating from deadlines is extremely anxiety-producing.
When you are in it, you don’t see it, in fact, you kind of like it — which is why I’d get so mad at myself whenever I’d fall off the wagon. I wanted so badly to “eat clean” and stay on track, even in the face of the reality, which was that I was unable to do it.
Come to find out no one can.
Perfect eating is a myth, and by constantly putting pressure on myself to be able to do it only made things worse — heaps of negative self talk piled on top of an already shitty diet, and I gave myself plenty of excuses to fail.
I made a huge mindset shift away from the urgency and the deadlines.
It was a lightbulb moment: “I have to figure out how to eat forever, because this shit isn’t working.”
It was the first time I gave myself permission to not be perfect. In fact, I made non-perfect the goal. I figured if I gave myself some small “nutritional gimmes,” the approach would be more sustainable. And lo and behold, it was.
See, there’s a huge difference between urgency and intensity.
And the more I thought about this concept, I see that it applies to anything you want to do long-term or anything you want to build that is a little bigger or scarier: whether it’s building a body, a business a relationship, etc. Urgency isn’t a long-term strategy. It can’t be.
Think about it: urgency tends to be sloppy.
It’s forever-dissatisfied. It’s fragmented, and because of that, it peters out. Urgency chooses gimmicks and Band-Aids, and it focuses exclusively on the outcome (which is STILL not happening, dammit!).
Urgency is ungrateful and restless.
On the other hand, intensity tends to be patient, consistent and forever-learning.
Intensity is focused, aware and concentrated on the journey. It’s grateful for the process.
And because of that, intensity trusts that it’s only a matter of time before all that effort pays off.
I remember back one time when I was prepping for a shoot, and because I’d been eating everything in sight up until the week before, I was in emergency mode trying to “lean out” and de-bloat, so frantic that the day before the shoot, I ate two entire celery heads and chugged 2 gallons of water. Celery is a natural diuretic, right?!
I was so nauseous, grossed out and deprived that the day of the shoot, on my way there, I stopped at Starbucks and got a latte! Lmao!
Of course I did. Such is the way of the deprive-then-binge.
That’s a story of urgency — Band-Aids and gimmicks and anxious bootstrapping.
What if I had just eaten moderately leading up the shoot? I probably wouldn’t have been as bloated overall, and I definitely wouldn’t have had to chug water and eat so much fucking celery. Lol (Don’t try it! Ugh!).
But I was unable to give myself permission to eat moderately — it wasn’t good enough. Yet, crash dieting was??
Finding a way to eat forever takes consistent intensity, trying out things, getting to know your body, plenty of figure-it-outs and self-trust and resiliency and adaptability. But it’s hard. Urgency is easier. At least in the short-term, instant-gratification sense.
But intensity is where real change happens.
It’s where patience and steady effort leads to growth and outcomes, whether that’s in your business, your physique or building anything that by nature takes time and trust to build.
Which system are you operating in? Could you take the long-view? Could you delay results right now for even better ones (and lasting ones) later? How patient can you be? How steady?
This is a major mindset shift. Check in with yourself when you find yourself looking for a new plan or getting ready to try some new cleanse or detox. Ask, will this get me closer to my forever-goals? Or is it a Band-Aid?
It’s a practice in self-awareness, self-compassion and self-trust.
I wish you luck ;)
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