Ever wonder why the idea of “getting healthy” or even “losing weight” isn’t enough to sustain your efforts over time?
Even if you start out strong and focused, your interest in the goal fades over a fairly short period of time.
Case in point: Most people quit their New Year’s Resolutions by January 12th, known to some as “Quitter’s Day”. We plan to do things for a whole year or the rest of our life and we last 12 days!
It’s not that “getting healthy” or “losing weight” are bad goals. In fact, it’s hard to argue that either aren’t wonderful and worthy goals. Collectively, as a society, we are very unhealthy and overweight.
These are the facts:
More than 2 out of every 3 American adults are overweight or obese.
Nearly 1 out of every 3 American children 2-19 years old are overweight or obese.
By age 10, most children already have fatty streaks in their arteries, the first stage of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the cause of cardiovascular disease, the #1 killer in the US, causing 1 in every 4 deaths. (That’s one every 40 seconds.)
A change in diet and lifestyle can prevent most cases of cardiovascular disease in western society.
This should be enough to convince millions of Americans to take action! Right?
And if we aren’t sick or overweight or experiencing increased risk factors already, what about taking action to prevent problems? If we have our health, wouldn’t we do all we can to keep it? Is there anything we possess that is more valuable?
Nope, this rarely works either.
It turns out, prevention is a horrible motivator. We humans are incredibly bad at calculating future risks when it comes to the likelihood that something bad will happen to us. Even if all signs point in that direction.
Facts are often not enough to influence our behavior.
There is one very simple reason why.
We don’t make decisions rationally.
We make them emotionally.
In Simon Sinek’s Tedx Talk entitled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”, he explains how great leaders think, act, and communicate differently than everyone else. (The talk has been viewed over 37 million times online!)
Great leaders are different from everyone else, Sinek explains, but they all use the same approach. When explaining their business to others, they each focus not on the WHAT or the HOW of their products or services, but on the WHY.
The “WHY” is their business’ purpose, cause or belief. The “WHY” is their inspiration.
This leads to success, Sinek explains, because people don’t buy what businesses do, they buy why they do it. This fact is grounded in biology, because the part of the brain responsible for decision making operates based on emotion. It is the limbic system, located deep in the brain. We literally can’t make any decisions at all without it!
So when we set a goal such as one to “lose 10 pounds”, but have no emotion tied to it, we are bound to fail before we even begin. If we aren’t feeling it, we can’t get ourselves to “buy in” to it.
So do you need a different goal?
Finding a goal that means something doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change your goal.
You are the CEO of your life. You just need to identify and get in touch with your “Why” so you can fully invest in your stated goal or commitment.
You have to ask yourself, “Why do I want to achieve __________? What will it mean to me to succeed? How will I feel?”
Don’t stop asking these questions until you reach an answer that resonates with you emotionally. Even if it takes a few times.
When you get in touch with what you believe, as Sinek says “what you do simply proves what you believe”.
People are capable of doing some incredible things when they are acting on behalf of their beliefs. And living a life in line with your beliefs feels very, very good. (And if you’ve ever taken action that goes against your principles, you know that it feels absolutely dreadful.)
If this process seems foreign to you, don’t worry. You already do it. From simple decisions to life-altering choices. We tend to make decisions based on our emotions and our conception of ourselves, even if we think we are just being rational.
The feelings that motivate us are often not rational. When my husband and I moved into a larger house ten years ago, part of what motivated us was the desire to feel like we had more time. A bigger house does not, in fact, give you more time! But the feeling that more space would somehow give us more time to enjoy our life drove us to move to a bigger house. (No regrets, but we still laugh about this!)
Whatever choice you come to, when you identify your WHY, you’ll be acting toward your goal not just for a number or an accomplishment, but for a feeling. This helps you keep your eye on the prize when things get challenging. Plus, when you feel the way you want, your life is much more enjoyable.
Use the fact that we make emotional decisions to help yourself reach your goals.
What’s your goal?
How will achieving it make you feel?
What will it mean to you?
How will it show the world you are living your beliefs?
Emotional? Good, you’re already on the road to success.
Need help finding your “WHY”? Sign up for a free call with me today.
Challenge: What's the "WHY" behind one of your current goals?