Negotiating With Your Best Self

November 7, 2013

There is a right time and a wrong time to negotiate with yourself.  It seems pretty obvious, but I am amazed at how often people pick the wrong time.  When you pick the wrong time, you always lose (or win, depending on if you’re answering to the proverbial angel or devil on your shoulder).  Here is the rule I use:

Only negotiate when your best self is present:  the one that sees the future, has faith in you, wants you to succeed and is a step removed from the thing you are negotiating.  For example, you can negotiate an exercise plan when you are warm and relaxed, feeling good and can see your fitness goal/s clearly.  You can’t do that when it’s still dark outside, windy and cold and you are trying to force yourself out the door.  Those negotiations almost always break down.  If you open the door to negotiation, how can you possibly make a good case for leaving the comfort of home and head into the cold, cruel world of exercise?   This is the wrong time to negotiate.  It’s exhausting, for one.  And based on my own experience, you usually end up feeling worse because you give in to your less-than-optimal self.

If you negotiate with your best self and make clear decisions, it is very freeing.  You don’t even open the door to the possibility of staying home on that cold, dark and windy morning.  You use your energy to get dressed and out the door and when that voice says, “just stay in bed” or “you’ll go tomorrow” you shut it down and go on automatic pilot, knowing that this is what your best self wants.

I exercise on certain days at certain times.  It is non-negotiable unless I’m sick.  I know I feel better when I do it…both physically and mentally.  The thought of negotiating that on a day to day basis exhausts me.  I am a good negotiator and can run circles around myself if I want, so when I start to hear the “oh, you don’t really  have to go out today, give yourself a break” I shut it down and stay focused.

Negotiation check list:

  • ask yourself who you are negotiating with.  If it’s not your best self, wait until that self can show up.
  • remember you can always renegotiate.
  • for on-going things, like exercise, diet, job-search, create your plan and agree to stick with it for a certain period of time…a week, a month…so you can see what it feels like.
  • remember what your longer term vision is.  remembering why you are dieting, exercising, looking for a better job helps make the hard work feel worth it.

When do you negotiate with yourself?  Who wins?