The Power of Three

Many times people say that bad things come in threes. I am not superstitious, but I have noticed that that sometimes seems true. In the past we have had two car repairs in a row followed by a house repair. It happens.

I wanted to share one of my strategies to keep myself focused on my weight loss when I was losing and a strategy I still use to help me maintain my weight. I call it “The Power of  Three.” (I did not think this up – but I’ve been doing it for so long I can’t remember who told me about it!)

Here’s how it works. When I was overweight, I had problems getting things done. I tended to sit around more than I should have, watch more television than was healthy and of course, I ate too much. When I started trying to lose weight, I decided to learn how to focus myself on the goal of losing weight.

Every night before I went to bed I would take a pad of paper I kept on my nightstand and write down three goals for the next day. One was food related, one was relationship related and one was exercise related. A typical night’s list might be:

1) Exercise 30 minutes.

2) Eat two fruits.

3) Check on a sick friend. 

Granted these were small goals, but that was the point. I needed some goals, but I didn’t need to set myself up for failure. So I didn’t set lofty goals each night, but instead set small attainable goals. The food goal changed every day. I set goals like: No chocolate, no salty foods, eat breakfast, try a new recipe, etc.

I’ve used this technique throughout the years to make sure I didn’t whittle my day away. Now my goals are still simple. Last night’s list was: Write one blog post, make banana muffins and ride my bike. Easy to be sure, but I still feel a sense of accomplishment when I cross each item off my list.

This little sticky note reminds to stay focused on the task at hand and gives me positive feedback at the same time.

How do you keep yourself focused and motivated?  Diane

40 thoughts on “The Power of Three

  1. Miz says:

    I am the same.
    I always set myself up for day success with my lists.

    things I want and need to do—sure.
    but always things I KNOW I can accomplish that day FIRST and then I plop a loftylofty underneath 🙂

  2. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    I do something similar, patterned after zenhabits “MIT” list (most important things). The three MITs of the day go at the top of the list and the rest is…well, icing. 🙂 It’s amazing how well it works!

  3. Diane says:

    Great plan !
    I keep myself motivated with an eternal sense of asking what will happen next- sort of like a kid anticipating what they will get under the Christmas tree. I plan my menus, do exercise moves and every Saturday morning is like Christmas. (Okay, several weeks lately I have found cola in my stocking, but there is always tomorrow !)

  4. Fran says:

    I love this idea Diane! As a matter of fact I’ve decided this morning that I’m going to use a notebook to make a to do list every night for the next day and I can use your power of three idea for it too! Great idea!

  5. Fran says:

    Oh … and my motivation comes from my motivation wall at home with my training schedule, my goals and my medals and also from friends that support me on this journey.

  6. Sharon says:

    I make my list of five things first thing in the morning. The top two never change (complete morning devotional time and walk 10,000 steps). The other three change each day, but I try to make #3 task oriented (pay bills, do laundry…), #4 relationship oriented (make a call, send a card…) and #5 food oriented (plans meals, stay on plan, find a way to use something in the fridge…) I write them in a small spiral notebook that stays with my devotional stuff and I record how I accomplished (or didn’t!!) each goal. It’s fun to go back and review sometimes. Guess I need to add #6 – write blog post!!

  7. Mary says:

    I love this idea too. It kind of sets up an inertia kind of thing. The more you accomplish, the more you are inspired to accomplish.


  8. John says:

    That’s a good idea! I use races to keep me motivated and focused. I’m going to try and always have a race to train for from now on. Already signed up for Dec.31…10k Resolution Run.

  9. Susan says:

    I’ve been having a very hard time staying motivated to eat right lately. I usually follow Bob Greens 10 steps maybe three would be more doable. I’ll try this idea..thanks Diane!

  10. Karen@WaistingTime says:

    What a great idea! And I love that it was not all about the eating/exercise. Often I feel too focused on that one aspect of my life. I need to be careful setting goals because I am discovering that I like to find loopholes. Sigh.

  11. Karen@WaistingTime says:

    I forgot to tell you that I gave you a blog award today. I am not sure you “participate” in them but I wanted to say “thank you” for all the amazing support and wisdom and inspiration and friendship:)

  12. Alissa says:

    I LOVE LISTS. I make lists for everything. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I can cross something off of the list. I am sure this power of three idea would really work!

  13. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Diane, I love this suggestion of 3 AND make them goals one can achieve. I must try it! As for how I stay motivated now…. fighting the aging process every day will really make you focus! 😉

  14. vickie says:

    “Granted these were small goals, but that was the point. I needed some goals, but I didn’t need to set myself up for failure. So I didn’t set lofty goals each night, but instead set small attainable goals. ”

    Because you are exactly right, lofty goals can be self sabotage.

    I have always believed the food and the fat are the parts most easily seen.

    So I loved that your set of three is not just ‘diet’ related (How I HATE that word).

    I think clutter, $$$, paperwork, sleep, relationships, chronic conditions, other addictions play a big part in sucessful weight loss and maintenance. All the other parts that are not as easily seen and don’t seem related to the food and the fat.

    Really good post.

  15. Jane says:

    What a great post! I believe that if we take care of what we eat, make sure we move our bodies, and take care of our relationships, weight loss will follow. They may be “everyday goals,” but they’re part of a foundation for a healthy, satisfying, productive life. When I’m not doing those things, like you, I sit too much and have difficulty getting things done. It becomes a cycle of inactivity, overeating, and isolation, and it’s a difficult cycle to break.

  16. Hope says:

    This is a great post, and I’m definitely going to try this! I’ve been struggling a little bit lately to maintain, and I think I could definitely use something like this to help keep me on track, as my only goal right now, is to lose the extra pounds I’ve put on.

    Hope you’re doing well. 🙂

  17. Shawnee says:

    I love that idea. I am not really sure what I am doing to keep myself motivated right now, I am just kind of doing it. But I know I need to do something. Maybe I will try that.

  18. Julia says:

    I’m not superstitious either but also always said things happen in three’s until the last couple of weeks when we way surpassed the magic number of 3 ‘bad’ things happening.

  19. Leah says:

    I’ve been looking for little things to help me get more focused on losing the weight and this idea sounds perfect. I could go on and on about why I love this idea, so many aspects that are perfect for me, but suffice it to say that I think I’m going to try this.

    THANK YOU so much for sharing this idea!!! I’ve never heard of it before.

  20. Pam says:

    I think I needed to hear this, because I know right now, as excited as I am about starting this journey again, I need all of the motivational tools I can get, because right now, I am using my blog posts, but nothing in my face like your post it notes. Thanks.

  21. Tami says:

    I am a great list maker too! I love being able to check things off through out the day. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and helps me stay focused.

  22. Rachel Palmieri says:

    What an awesome idea! I just got out one of my whiteboards and put, in permanent marker, places for food/exercise/relationship goals. I’ve already listed my goals for tomorrow (and stole your eat 2 fruits example)!

  23. Cheryl says:

    I love simple! I’m working on a project right now that REALLY requires focus and shaking the shiny object syndrome. 🙂 This I think will help…thank you!

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