When people I haven’t seen in a years notice I’ve lost weight, the inevitable question I get asked is, “What’s your secret?” When I say, truthfully, “There is no secret; I gave up everything I craved and walk three to five miles a day. It made me cranky and I wasn’t always nice.” I get skeptical looks. “But what is your secret?” they repeat. There should be a smoothie, a pill, a piece of equipment, a girdle, or a new exercise behind significant weight loss.
If I’m feeling brave, I’ll say, “Self discipline. Self control. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done so consistently. I still mess up.” That doesn’t work, either. “You have to treat yourself sometime, or you will quit,” they assure me. “You need to eat a little bit of the foods you love.” “It’s not good to have all that discipline.”
I try to change the subject. I’m uncomfortable talking about discipline and success. It’s not the answer for everybody. But it has worked consistently for me–not just in changing my relationship with food, but for most things in life that I have
been pig-headedly stubborn about relentlessly pursued.
It reminds me of how often I was told, after I landed a book contract, that I was “lucky.” Well, perhaps, but it also involved a lot of hard work and, ummm, discipline. I experimented with concepts, ideas, projects. A lot of concepts weren’t strong enough, ideas were half-baked and projects failed. Real creativity is what happens after you fail and before you succeed.
I wrote the book proposal over at least six times, I changed the idea of the book
slightly when it wasn’t focused enough, spent hours doing research to find a publisher who specialized in the kind of book I wanted to write.
The need for “luck” and “secrets” comes because discipline and hard work are not fast and easy. And no one (except the Little Red Hen) wants to say, “I worked really hard for this and I made it work.” It sounds conceited and self-satisfied. But I don’t know a single soul who has lost a lot of weight and kept it off who had an easy secret. Same goes for people who have accomplished something big in their lives. They seemed to have given up a lot of what they would have liked to do instead and worked hard for a long time to make the big dream come true.
Thomas Edison had it right when he said, “The reason too many people miss opportunity is because is goes around dressed in overalls and looking like work.” Followed by another good quote from Thomas Jefferson, “The harder I work the more luck I seem to have.”
Don’t be afraid to dream big. Don’t ever doubt that pushing a dream into reality isn’t hard work. It always is. Don’t be afraid to work hard for that big dream. It’s worth it, and you will learn a lot along the way.
—Quinn McDonald is still struggling to keep the weight off. But she gets to walk in the beautiful light that comes at daybreak.
18 thoughts on “The Secret to Luck”
I think you could substitute the word talent for luck and the message would be just as apropos. People want to trivialize the value of hard work, discipline, and staying focused. Kudos to you for understanding your secret! And thanks for another great article!
Talent may be inherited (or divinely handed out), but talent just sits there till practice polishes it into a fine sheen.
Gramma Donna..our lives and future is designed by God..I, I, I, does not come first..help from the Good Lord, pray and then work at whatever you
do…do it well and give God all the honor and the glory!! Success does not
come with only us saying I did this, or I did that or it was me….it comes with
help from God asking for his help in all we do!!! Try it, you’ll like it..Gramma Donna
I would imagine your ‘treat’ was when you stood on the scales and the number was smaller and when you bought smaller clothes. Tenacity and effort reaps rewards!
In a similar vein, when I was living in Bangkok and Tokyo, traveling around the world every holiday and long weekend, people used to say, “You are so lucky!” My response was that luck had nothing to do with it, I took some risks and made choices.
It’s good to know that taking risks and making choices is a powerful driver for getting ahead.
Quinn – I will tell you again (and keep telling you), you are my hero! You have been so disciplined and I know it wasn’t easy in any way, shape or form. It’s all about dedication, responsibility, discipline and control. Nothing magical, just a LOT of hard work and you did it!
There is a lot of magic in the world. Weight-loss magic is pretty hard to come by!
I’m so surprised you left out the hyphens for self-discipline and self-control….:-)
I like to surprise people. I was following the general AP stylesheet rule of not using a “hyphen unless it serves a purpose. If a compound adjective cannot be misread or, as with many psychological terms, its meaning is established, a hyphen is not necessary.” But it is true that most two-word adjectives that start with “self” are hyphenated.
Disciplined work is hard work. Not everyone sees the importance of that and feels that one day they’ll be lucky too.
Yep, that’s how it works. We all want the easy short cut.
The older I get the harder things like weight-loss/control have become. And, the more I realize how important it is to stay present with all the little choices I make. Thanks for your thoughts.
It’s true. Making little decisions keeps you from having to make great big, often unpleasant, ones.
Oh I feel for you, I am on a journey to re-lose the 17 pounds I gained last year and of course more—Joined WW and have gone down .5 and up .8 and down 1.2 anyway I guess I’m headed the right way-but I have been so angry with the change in weight loss since I was a younger person, and with having to be so very strict with myself. You are right the only way to do this is to eat very carefully, and exercise a lot more then I used to and on a regular basis!!! We all can do this and will be healthier for doing so!!! Thanks for sharing.
I’m with Debbie – my comment wants to morph into a novel. Suffice it to say that I am still stunned how often recently I’ve read your words and they’ve resonated very deeply 😉 Sharing.
Some days, when I hear I’m not alone, it’s enough to keep me happy all day!
When I read this and thought to comment, my comment kept going on and on in my head. So, I decided to keep it short and tell you that this post was very helpful to me.
Also, I love the term “professional gambler” in the previous comment!
I’m a professional gambler it’s not luck it’s all work work with study. RB