This blog discusses Freakonomic’s podcast on The Cheeseburger Diet, and illustrates how focus on a true joy, rather than deprivation, can enable you to manage other hard behaviors naturally.
Meet Emily O’Mara of Louisville, Kentucky. She loves cheeseburgers so much she decided to have fun and taste test all the burger joints in Louisville. This meant 2 burgers a week for a year for a total of 101 burgers. What’s important is that Emily loves cheeseburgers so much she licks her lips, tastes the grease, and savors the fries just thinking about one. She can imagine the smell, taste and feel of what is most desirable to her and it gives her focus.
MAKE YOUR GOAL A JOY, NOT A DEPRIVATION
Emily was so excited about trying all of these cheeseburgers that she didn’t consider her health until a colleague asked if she was worried. So while Emily smacked and chewed her way through cheeseburgers guilt-free, she deliberately ate healthy food the rest of the week. She walked or rode her bike to the burger places and covered at least 10,000 steps a day.
Emily didn’t gain a pound and her cholesterol level only went up marginally. The secret? Her goal was to consume delicious cheeseburgers, not to manage her weight. Joy was the objective, with discipline as the secondary player. This is known as “Compensatory Behavior” – when we take on risk in life, we try to reduce risk in another part of life.
What if we managed our money the same way? What if we identified what gives us true joy – to the point of being able to feel, smell, taste and live it, in our minds? If we allocated money to true happiness, would we naturally drive ourselves to resist temptation on everything else that is secondary? Would it enable us to have stronger willpower over spending and save money... naturally?
FINDING YOUR RUDDER
I refer to this behavior as having a rudder. Without a rudder on a sailboat, we are at the mercy of prevailing winds and temptation to spend on the objects or desires of the day.
When Emily finished her cheeseburger tasting, her everyday eating deteriorated. It just so happens that she and her husband also love pizza. She’s planning a taste test of pizza next to give herself another fun objective. If your rudder – your true joys change, then feel free to adjust. Your dreams and goals will change through life as you experience and learn. The trick is to ensure you always have some to keep your priorities clear.
Related Topic: Are You Spending...and Eating on Auto-Pilot?
Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Behavioral Cents, LLC and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.
Carrie Rattle is founder of BehavioralCents.com and a veteran executive of financial services. She works with women to build money confidence and change their money behaviors for the better - without deprivation. Instead of simply telling women what to do, she helps them fight the tide of daily temptation to reach their dreams. Women gain control and feel comfortable making their own wise money decisions. Thoughts always welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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