My dog had to go on a diet. A ten-pound weight gain in four months gave me panicked visions of a fast-growing tumor, but no, says the vet. He’s just eating too much.

After a morsel-by-morsel review of his eating habits, I determined that switching dog foods about four months ago accounted for roughly 25 percent more calories in his daily diet. Oops.

Two weeks of fat-dog food and carrot snacks later, I can already see a difference in Wallace’s physique. I knew exactly how to fix the problem and I quickly put a new meal plan in place. Mission accomplished.

It seems simple, but only because I’m doling out the food and carrots. My dog may not get to pick his food, but he’ll get to his goal pretty quickly. He doesn’t have a choice.

Real life is different. Whether it’s our diet of food or media consumption or [insert something you’re trying to conquer here], we get to make choices. We get to decide. And all our decisions are interrelated.

  • Working late tonight? There goes your workout time.
  • Slept in so you didn’t have time for breakfast? That donut in the breakroom looks awfully good.
  • Ran into an old friend and decided to go to dinner and catch up? So much for cleaning the bathroom tonight.

The thing to remember is that some of these may be the right decisions, even if they conflict with some other aim. That work project you stayed to finish might have been a great career move. The bathroom can certainly wait for a rekindled friendship.

Keep moving toward your goal, whatever it is, but make room for conflicting choices along the way. Choose the things that contribute to your development and nurture relationships, even if it means taking a little detour. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just mosey back toward the path.

And every now and then, a donut is probably okay, too.

P.S. Sorry, Wallace. You still get carrots.