Evaluate Every Influence

Here's an earth shattering statistic: According to researchers at the University of North Carolina and Rhodes College, the increase in Wal-Mart Super Centers accounts for 10.5% of the rise in obesity in the United States since the late 1980s. The study is published in the Journal of Urban Economics. Their research found that it was due to the low cost of food sold at these super centers. In other words, since it's highly convenient and accessible, people eat more. Talk about stating the obvious.

In Juggling Elephants we talk so much about focusing on your purpose and not being distracted by emotion, laziness, convenience or other factors. There will always be negative influences (like inexpensive, highly processed food) around you that can take you off course (i.e. add to your waistline). The flip side of the Wal-Mart effect is that they offer healthy food at lower costs as well-people just tend not to buy them in the same volume.

The key is to evaluate every influence and determine whether it is helpful in moving you toward your desired outcome or pushing you further away from it. If you can't remove yourself from a negative influence, at least minimize your exposure to it. In other words, don't stand in the candy or snack aisle and say, "I can resist the urge to buy that 3 pound bag of chips." Spend more time in the fruit and vegetable area admiring the oranges and apples-and then buy some.