How To Order From the Hidden Menu (The YAHOO Principle)

Aug 25, 2019

Being trapped sucks. 

We all detest being told we have to do something, and we get cranky when our options are limited. Like a lousy hotel breakfast, many situations in life seem like a short list of options, none of which we like. 

But did you know there's a hidden menu? Life is full of hidden menus. 

We all miss the hidden menu sometimes, because we look at the obvious menu. Here is an example: The boss suggests a steakhouse dinner meeting tomorrow night. As a vegetarian we are perplexed by whether we should accept or decline the invite. The menu online is apparently a carnival of things we don't eat. The only vegetarian option is the side salad. Not even an entree salad!  If we say yes to dinner, we invest a bit in that relationship, but a side salad and the breadbasket to eat? Ugh. Plus it would be mighty awkward.  

So we consider saying no. If we say no, we might offend the boss, and then we'd need a really good excuse... and the dilemma stresses us out all night. Maybe we should say yes. Then again, maybe just say no....

But really there are many more options besides saying say yes and say no. That's the hidden menu. The hidden menu is everything that comes after the first 2 options you think you have. We could suggest an alternate place to have a dinner meeting. We could suggest having the meeting somewhere else entirely, it doesn't have to be at a restaurant. We could propose that our officemate really needs to be there since he's central to the project, so let's ask Phil about his schedule rather than plan this without him.  We could call the restaurant and ask of there is something they can make for a vegetarian. (Many places have a vegetarian or gluten free menu but only post the main menu online). 

There are at least those 4 options on life's hidden menu. 

Let's try another one.

You are tired of waking up at 5 am to teach the first spin class of the day, 4 days a week. You don't want to quit your job, but you're getting so little sleep (less than 6 hours most nights) that you know it's impacting your health and mood. What's on the hidden menu? 

Other than quit or keep abusing yourself, you could ask a coworker if they might switch some classes with you, so you only have 1 or 2 of those crack-o-dawn sessions. You could speak to whomever makes the schedule to let them know you won't be able to take the Fridays any more. You may dislike inconveniencing them but remember, it's their job, they are paid to find instructors for the classes, they'll be ok. You might also keep the class schedule you currently have but adjust your evenings so you can head to bed an hour earlier than you have been. Then you can get your energy and sanity back, and get the rest you need, without shifting your work schedule at all. 

This week, my clients found the following on their hidden menu: 

- The obvious menu said: Kim, go through a fast food drive through after a long workday, or you'll have to cook dinner at home.  The hidden menu option: Why not keep a frozen veggie pizza (or five) in the freezer at home? Dinner can be heating up a frozen veggie pizza and crunching on carrots while it bakes. You always have other options than fast food. It's okay if you wan to choose it, but it's not your only option!

- The obvious menu said: Jordan, you're having the urge to binge eat. You either have to sit here putting all your effort into denying this compulsion... or give in and stuff yourself with cookies. The hidden menu option: get out of the house, go walk around the neighbourhood and pay attention to all the sights, smells and sounds. Walk until you feel like going to bed, and then grab a book and hit the sheets. You always can do something besides give into an urge to overeat or binge. Repeat after me: YAHOO!

- The obvious menu said:  Kelly, you have to be on your feet for 8 to 12 hours a day at this important conference and the dress code is formal, so that means high heels. Your feet tend to swell, so brace yourself for loads of pain, just like you endured last year. (The obvious menu didn't even have a second lousy option). The hidden menu said: why not look for some shoes which are more comfortable and still look nice enough to wear with your formal dresses?  Perhaps a pair of dressy slacks and flats would work out just fine and not leave you hobbling. Note: we found shoes for her online, and she rocked it. Elastic straps and cushioned soles for the win. There is always an option for fashionable attire that doesn't make you wince in pain. 

The hidden menu isn't obvious by definition, so don't expect to see it right away. But keep an eye out for it this week. When you hit a snag or aren't sure what to do, fight the urge to choose right away and take a minute to look more broadly for options. A coach or friend might be able to point out the choices you aren't considering.  Consider sharing your predicament with someone you trust and asking "Are there options here I haven't considered yet?" 

If you succeed in finding something to order something off the hidden menu, let me know!  We all get better at this by practicing, so you'll be helping me out, too, by reminding me where hidden menus exist. 

YAHOO! 

(No, those are not my clients' actual first names). 

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