Mission Creep – Thought Stream Patterns and Labels

Thought Stream Patterns

As you spend more time at position three and you and your Monkey become aware of the patterns in your thought streams. As time passes we find it increasingly easy to label the streams and ignore them if it suits our purpose to do so.

This post is about one of those thought stream patterns. This one is universal and it can undermine your progress and reduce your confidence in the changes you are already achieving.

It picks up a common theme that most of us struggle to resolve which is something to do with a belief that ‘more is always better’.

Like some of the other core thought stream labels it helps us see that whilst logically more would be better or nice going for it is not always best for us in this moment now.

Leaders have a vision about destinations. Someone still has to manage what and when ……


I am about 2 kilos heavier than what I deep down consider to be my ideal weight.

I have set up a process for eating and exercise that has saved me from an existence of sickness, weakness and poor health

It involves a clear idea and supporting rules on what to eat and when to eat it. The nutrition is paired with some rules on hydration and exercise which I follow because I now feel better.

It’s true I could be fitter (faster stronger more flexible)

It’s true I could be thinner (weigh less have a different body shape)

But and it’s a big but what I am doing currently is getting better, being well creating the space and energy to do the things I want to do.

Truth is I have seen big improvements over this last winter and I am now excited to try out the new me on the water.

And then

And then it starts. Old habits old sentiments supporting the old Gods of ‘more is good’ or ‘different is better’ become increasingly noisy.

Maybe part of me is bored sticking with a routine that works?

Maybe part fo me is simply wondering “What’s next?”

I had a boss once Trevor. We arrived together at the same time to work for a failing organisation. It was a mess nothing worked.

Trevor was in his element he loved it everything needed fixing and he had the authority to do it.

He changed everything and made huge improvements. Visibly creating change that demonstrated things were now working.

Almost immediately he was then moved some where else.

The ultimate boss knew Trevor was great at fixing and changing but there was problem once this was done.

He loved change, he loved different and, if he was left in place, he would have got bored and started lighting fires to have the joy of putting them out.

They moved him to another ‘disaster’ and told him to fix it. He quickly forgot us and became embroiled in the new game.

We then acquired a new boss, John. John was completely different to Trevor. John’s   total focus was maintaining things as they were. Many other mini Trevors couldn’t stand this new way of working and ran for the hills. There were o dragons to fight no fires to put out and they found the new process driven world boring and limited their pleasure.

The new boss replaced them with people like him. They maintained, they preserved  and they fought change tooth and nail.

Part of me is like Trevor.

Its a thought stream or set of them that exist deep within.

They don’t want the answer they want to play to try to change to be different. They are great fun (as Trevor was) Trevor had a bar in his office and a black hole Amex that he could use at will to hold celebrations and parties for the teams that did what he wanted.

I watch the thought stream that tells me it would be ‘good’ t0 be thinner.

It’s slowly gaining traction as it’s summer and beach ready bodies are everywhere.

I am letting the thought stream run making no intervention to stop it or alter it. Want to watch this tide of mission creep as it happens in an attempt to capture and example.

What you might call ‘allowing’ in the Create Promote Allow sequence there’s more about this here 

I am not sure what the right answer is, I feel ok strong healthy and reasonably fit but it’s accurate to say there is a 2 kg question.

This natural openness to better ideas is a good thing as long as we don’t get carried away on an enthusiasm bus.

At view point three I know that there have been many times when I would have willingly paid a 2kg price to feel this good but the thought stream that is nagging gently at me now is not taking that into account.

It’s background and sentiment is all about ‘thinner is good’.

From view point three I can see how the years of media focus on health beautiful bodies would have informed this sort of belief or idea in me.

I watch and take no actions.

  • I don’t use a Sedona style let it go or release technique.
  • I don’t use a trip to view point three or even a future pacing (exercise 12 ) technique

I just watch.

After a while it looks like I agree 2kg lighter and would be a good thing

Immediately the ‘how to”  thoughts streams start

Eat less or do more is the overriding message but underneath that clear message is a myriad of subtle variations on how to do this:

Let’s dump yoga and start running regularly again – (you know thats the fittest you ever were – you can eat what you like when you run 40 miles a week).

Then there’s a new stream reminding me of running toll with high mileages on an older come back to running body

Then there’s a stream saying it would be great to do that and show it can be done.

This debate continues in the background as a new tide of thought streams fire up.

“Let’s reduce calories”

“Lets adopt a new fasting variant” (I’m currently doing a 16 :8 not eating for 16 hours then eating for 8 hours)

I do this on average 5 days a week. It’s one of the things that I reckon has helped me feel better than I did. Part of this is physical a real change and part of it is the feeling of control and process that I know I love.

Messing with this without good reason would be a step backwards and yet at least one thought stream is now suggesting we do exactly that.

I now know what is going on

Fixed but not fun

If you looked at the last 12 months you would see me taking time to set a reasonable expectation (goal outcome target whatever you wish to call it )

This was about feeling better more energy and a stable environment I could relax into.

You would see a number fo variations until the current mode of living was concreted into place. It is a real routine. Sleep food exercise Mind stuff all taking their rightful oplace in my maintenance or what we used to call survival routine.

I know what to do and, if I do it I feel good.

I have crossed the bridge from good idea to habit

I have changed my environment to make it easy to stick to the things I need to do

How I shop

What food I have in the house

How I cook

How I socialise have all felt the influence of the new way of living.

Then something has happened thats cause date 2kg less would be nice thought….

I call up the Monkey and go to viewpoint three

We check what we are doing

2kg less is an interesting thought and a potentially good idea but it’s beyond what we are currently doing .

It’s mission creep.

It happens when things are beginning to go well, when we think we can do this or when we think we are winning. My change to a better routine for feeling better is now habitual and I’m finding it relatively easy.

In the moment we have forgotten the work an effort it took to find this routine, to set it up and to stick with it long enough to get results.

This is the next test in making it a life long practice as we need to be on guard to notice Mission Creep.

This means resisting any pressure or ideas that ‘spring to mind’ to change, modify or extend, make complicated something that is already delivering. The lure is to go for a nice to have extra that is a no brainer.

The question is something like “Why wouldn’t you fix the 2 kg problem now you know about it?”

The intrinsic reward is to tick off another obvious goal but the risk is to lose what we have already achieved.

Change needs to be considered or we run the risk of destroying  a process that pretty much works to give us what we wanted – energy fitness strength and health.

The existing, habitualised, process could be risked but we should look at the potential loss as hard as we do the possible gain.

If like Trevor you are in a situation where everything is broken or not giving you what you want almost anything different  is a a good option. It shakes up the existing malaise, shows different is possible and may even get the results you want.

It’s not the same when you have a hard won system in place that works.

In the last chapter of the Misaligned Monkey we looked at your Monkey’s role as a fixer. What can seem like an interminable search for something that we need to change or ‘fix’. We suggested we rather start looking for what we have thats fixed what we have we can celebrate and what we have that we must defend if we are to build a sustainable future that we love.

Position Three

My Monkey and I look hard at these new thoughts the 2kg less would be good and the associated how to noise that rushes in behind any passive acceptance or acknowledgment from me.

When we look carefully behind the thought stream and look towards its purpose we see old beliefs hidden in the 2kg thought stream and in its successors that reflect older less helpful beliefs we have left behind.

Beliefs that suggest

  • success should be hard if its worth it
  • that life should be a struggle
  • that this easy living is too soft
  • more is always better

From the clarity and distance of position three we see what is going on. Someone is bored – there’s a Trevor loose in the lane and he’s looking for fires to put out.

We look fondly at all we have done to create some way of being that gives us more of what we want and less of what we dont want. We smile we label what is going on as mission creep. Labelling works again and  we can dismiss the thoughts streams that have appeared egging us on towards more different. We thank them for thie rinput. We honour their input by choosing to consider if a reduction in body weight by 2 kg might find its way into future plans but we reinforce our right to choose and we make it clear this is not something that currently fits with where we are going.

We choose to avoid Mission Creep, to support the stability of our existing system and only add new outcomes if and when it is right to do so.

We reinforce our own appreciation of  the power of one of our key tools – labelling.