“Don’t go to the cheese factory” is a metaphor we coined during a recent coaching session with a couple who were having troubles in their relationship.
Bob has a problem. He’s addicted to cheese. Soft cheese, hard cheese, sharp cheese, mild cheese, round cheese, square cheese, cheddar, brie, gouda, jack, bleu, feta, wensleydale. He can’t get enough cheese.
One fateful New Year’s Day, Bob resolves to give up cheese. It’s not good for his health, and he doesn’t want to support the dairy industry for ethical reasons. These reasons are more important to Bob than his cravings.
But then one day, Bob goes to the cheese factory. “I can handle it,” he tells himself. “I’ll be fine.” At the first offer of free samples, he’s gobbling up the cheese again, stuffing his face with abandon.
Bob continues to visit the cheese factory from time to time. He tries as hard as he can; sometimes he resists, and sometimes he succumbs. “I tried my best,” he says. “It’s just so hard to resist when the cheese is right there in front of me.”
This is my advice to Bob:
If you don’t want to eat the cheese, don’t go to the cheese factory.
If you don’t want to wake up in bed next to a stranger, don’t drink so much at the party.
If you don’t want to eat junk food, don’t buy junk food.
If you don’t want to come home with a cute little puppy, don’t go to the animal shelter.
If you don’t want to spend money on books, don’t go to the bookstore.
If you want to eat smaller portions, serve yourself smaller portions instead of relying on your willpower to stop eating when your plate is still half full.
If you don’t want to waste 20% of your life watching television, get rid of your TV set, or your cable.
If you don’t want to waste 20% of your life playing World of Warcraft, unsubcribe.
If you don’t want to spend all your money on gorgeous stripy socks, don’t follow @SockDreams on Twitter.
If you don’t want to get back together with your ex, don’t talk to your ex.
Don’t rely on your willpower in the moment, when the temptation is right in front of you. Rely on your willpower once, ahead of time, when you’re feeling clear about what you most want.
Don’t try not to eat the cheese once you’re already at the cheese factory. Make one decision in advance: choose not to go to the cheese factory in the first place.
What examples of “don’t go to the cheese factory” can you think of in your life, or of people you know?