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Dreaded Questions

Thank you for reading this week’s Operation Melt update.

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives.

I am trying to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.


Choosing Success

After accomplishing many goals throughout my life and helping others do the same through my coaching, mentoring and writing, I have learned a lot about goal success. One of the top truths I have learned is that the main ingredient in the recipe for goal success is choices, habits, behaviors and mindsets.

Through my research, coaching and life experiences I am constantly learning new things about the choices we make that can either move us closer to our goals or hold us back. I want to share these lessons with you but they don’t always fit into one of my existing blog categories. So that means it is time for something new.

I have created a new category / blog topic called Goal Success by Choice. I hope these posts help you make the daily choices that will help you crush your goals.

Dreaded Questions

There are two common questions that I dread hearing from the people I engage with each day:

  • What do you do?
  • How are you?

I will save the “what do you do” question for a later topic and am going to focus on the “how are you” question today.

“How are you” used to just be a mindless exercise in small talk. Nobody wanted to hear how you are actually doing, they were just trying to bridge the gap in the conversation between “hello” and the topic at hand. So there were usually only two acceptable answers “fine” or “good.” Then there was the expectation that you would reciprocate and ask how they are too.

The “how are you” dance has always been interesting to me and a little bit of a pet peeve because it is such a strange social conversational contract. For a while, I have even broken from the norm and would answer with words like “fantastic” or “fabulous” and not offer up the reciprocal question. It isn’t because I don’t care how people are doing, I just don’t think this is the most productive way to have the conversation.

It’s Ok Not to Be Ok

Over the past year with the pandemic, there has been an increasing focus on mental health and wellbeing. This is a positive side effect of pandemic life since this undervalued part of our general wellbeing has been overlooked forever.

Mental health has been ignored, stigmatized or otherwise swept under the rug. But the pandemic and the loneliness of quarantine time have brought it more to the forefront. Let’s just hope that continues once the pandemic is behind us.

One way that the pandemic has prioritized mental health is was a campaign, or at least a tagline, that it is ok not to be ok. This saying seeks to provide validation for people and their feelings of mental stress. It hopes to empower people to talk about these feelings instead of keeping them inside.

How are you? Uhhh…

An interesting result of it being ok not to be ok is that there has been a change to our “how are you” social conversational contract. Instead of the prescribed answer of “fine” or “good,” the people I interact with all seem to be a bit more tepid about how they are doing now.

Over the past week, I have heard a variety of new answers to the “how are you” question:

  • As good as can be I guess
  • Eh, you know
  • I’m… ok
  • I just want this to be over

All of these answers are a far cry from the false “fine” and “good” that used to be the expected answer. But, for many people, it appears that this may be, once again, just the false response that is expected to the question versus a real response about how they are doing.

People answer “how are you” based on what they believe they are required to say. Now that has gotten to be less “good” and “fine” in our pandemic world.

You Don’t Have to Be Not Ok

This week I even found myself responding to “how are you” with some of these less good responses. I was just mindlessly following the crowd from “good” to “I’m ok, I guess” but that was honest. Just like “fine” and “good” were seldom actually honest.

Like everybody else, there are a ton of things around me in the world that can bring me down and make me negative if I let them. But, as I wrote in my lessons learned from 2020, I am doing great and I am killing it. I am not just getting by, I am not just ok. I am very fortunate, I am very grateful and I am making tons of progress with my goals.

Has this shift from “fine” and “good” has made it less acceptable to be proud of ourselves? Is it insensitive to be happy and content with life right now?

It’s Ok to Be Ok and Even Great

I would argue that, despite everything happening around us, it is ok to be ok. It is even ok to be doing great. It is just not ok to be dishonest.

As I wrote in my article Development Saved is Development Earned (download it for free in the Resources section of Operation Melt), one of the ways that we undermine our own success is by engaging in “discounting.” This is when we reduce the importance of our own achievements, thoughts, needs or ideas.

When we answer the “how are you doing” question with some artificially downgraded version of how we are really doing, we are just being dishonest. We tell ourselves that we are answering this way to be sensitive to others who may not be doing so well, but that doesn’t make it ok to be dishonest. Nobody benefits from that.

The worst part about discounting ourselves and saying that we are doing just “ok” is that we may start to believe it. If I am going great and killing it, but I continually say that I am just getting by, I am more likely to stop seeing how I am killing it. I am more likely to overlook my own successes. Because of this, I am more likely to give up on a goal because it is hopeless right now.

If we tell other people false stories, we start telling ourselves false stories. Then we start believing them. Then we stop being proud of our achievements. We stop seeing those places where we are killing it. Then the “I’m just ok” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Try This At Home

The next time somebody asks “how are you,” try responding honestly. Let them know you are doing great and be proud of your hard work and achievements. It is not insensitive.

Then, just maybe, ask “how are you” back in a sincere way and listen to their response. Give them a chance to be heard. Maybe they are doing great too and have been looking for an opportunity to be proud of themselves. Or, maybe they aren’t and they need somebody to listen.

If we are all more honest with our answers to “how are you,” maybe more goals would be accomplished and fewer of them will simply die of loneliness.

I Need Your Help

Before you go I would like to ask you for a favor. I can’t build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness on my own. Please consider helping your friends find today’s post by following me on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram and sharing today’s post to your feed.

While you are at it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post, your goals or anything else on your mind. Send me a note via my Contact Me form,

Thanks again for reading today’s post and here’s to achieving your most important goals!

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Published inGoal Success by Choice

Disclaimer: The Operation Melt website and blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.

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