By Jodi Milner

Jodi Milner author/bio pic

Aha! Now I have your attention. There are things that you absolutely can’t cheat on, like tests, résumés, and taxes. But … there are things that you absolutely can. Resolutions and goals are never an all-or-nothing affair. There will be days where you really struggle. There will be days where situations spiral out of control and you need to be kind to yourself. Forcing yourself to do things when you are really not feeling it will not only make goals and resolutions harder, it can actually reinforce why you really don’t like goals in the first place.

This is where strategic cheating can make all the difference. If your goal is to drink eight glasses of water a day and it’s 10 pm and you’re short three – drink one and call it good. You’re still further ahead than if you hadn’t tried at all. And … you won’t be up all night peeing.

strategic cheating

If your goal was to write for an hour a day but you find yourself really distracted and anxious, set your timer for 15 minutes instead. If you finish the 15 minutes and still can’t silence those inner demons, know that you got more done than if you hadn’t done anything at all.

The examples can go on and on but the point is to stop bullying yourself and instead come up with ideas of what you can do instead.  Rewarding these small successes sets you up much better than always feeling like you’ve failed and can turn negative thinking about goals into something much more productive.

Try this:

Consider the goals you’ve set. Now, think of all the ways they might go wrong. For most goals, it comes down to not having time, but for some, it might be more abstract. Come up with a cheat that will help you still make progress and give you a needed lift. Couldn’t find a block of time to exercise? Cheat by sneaking in 5 minutes of cardio dance or doing 20 squats and 20 pushups. Trying to keep calories under control but are really stressing? Have premade yummy snack kits, like celery and peanut butter or boiled eggs, that taste good but won’t send your count spiraling out of control. Stress and anxiety breaking the systems you’ve carefully put in place? Have a “rescue me” stress kit with a few favorite things that help you find your center.


The only way I can lose weight is to count calories. I’ve tried all sorts of crazy things, but it always comes back to simply getting my grazing tendencies under control. When I get totally stressed out by unrelated things and really need the comfort of a special snack, I allow it. It’s healthier for me to have a bowl of Cheeto’s Puffcorn when I really need it than to continue to stress and give up counting altogether. I put a single serving in a bowl and enjoy it. Going over my calorie limit by 100-200 calories on the days I really need it is far better than to give up and possibly spend days and weeks not counting at all and lose my progress.

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