The need for cheat days (and I’m not just talking about your diet)

I think most people know what a cheat day is – you’re on a stricter-than-normal diet, it’s tough to hold out and restrict yourself 100% of the time, so you allow yourself a day to cheat.  Which can mean a lot of different things – eat anything for one meal, a day, etc.  But the point is that, whether you want to say it’s a human thing or just our society, it’s really hard to stay on a highly-regimented and restrictive program every single day of the year.

Not to say there aren’t good reasons – work dinners, travel, time, etc.  But the point is that cheat days provide a ton of value for people on a diet, sometimes actually contributing to a person’s goal (for example weight loss), if only because they know there’s a cheat day coming in their future.

What I found interesting, however, is what I heard in a mastermind group I’m a part of.  One of the guys is an entrepreneur, his business is growing and so he has hired people to take on many of the responsibilities he used to do himself.  Including sales.  He knows intellectually that there are certain areas of his business where he should not spend time – whether others are better or simply that it’s a poor ROI relative to where he could be working (or not at all depending on what he values).

But he also feels both that he just simply likes sales and that it keeps him connected to leads.  So what he has done is apportioned one day per month that he terms a cheat day – where he works on whatever he wants, which is primarily sales.  Just like a diet, it satiates his desire to do something that he knows he probably shouldn’t.  But it’s not so involved that it costs him significant value.

For some folks, the context might be the business realm, for others (but definitely not me) it’s about about feeling relaxed when folding laundry when you could get the corner laundromat to do it for pretty darn cheap.  It could be anything.

I thought this was a really cool concept, especially since I have more than one area of my life where I know “the better” thing to do, but I’d also like to not have to give up that “other thing” 100%.  So why do so?  Why feel like I’m always tapping into my willpower to restrain myself from something when I can allow myself a cheat moment – do enough where it’s not gnawing at me but not so much that everything gets screwed up.

And frankly, I think the chances of sticking with that “better thing” actually increase if it’s not all or nothing.

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Caith Chapman
GM, eCommerce & Consumer Products, Tastemade

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