“People lose their way when they lose their why” Gail Hyatt. Finding your why can help those lifestyle changes stick this time unlike in the past.
Jerry Seinfeld famously stated that to become a better joke writer, he wrote a joke a day and checked off each day on the calendar. This tenacity to become a better joke writer paid off in a big way with his comedic success. However, some people miss his why statement hidden inside his goal to write a joke a day. He stated that his reason for writing a joke a day, his why, was “to become a better joke writer.” While this might sound obvious, both Your Best Year Ever and Smarter Faster Better discuss the importance of finding your why for change.
Each person has a different why, but it is essential to know your why and own it. In my family, obesity and the diseases that follow weighing more than you should are commonplace. My mother is an excellent example of how finding your why can change habits established for 20+ years. When her doctor wanted her on multiple prescription medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, she found her why. She hated the side effects of the medications. She changed the way she was eating, lost weight, and eliminated the need for prescription drugs. The why of setting a goal is different for each person. Writing out your goal and then writing why it matters to you is essential regardless of whether you print it out on paper in your office or handwrite it in red lipstick on your mirror. The sheer act of writing it out will make you 42% more likely to complete the goal. Putting this goal somewhere you can see it every day and creating a checkmark is a way to celebrate your daily win of meeting your SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). Change is hard work, and celebrating that we made it through another day with success is not something we do well. Instead, we are exceedingly fantastic at beating ourselves up over one bad day. That one lousy day sticks with us and is often used as the reason we can ultimately fail at working towards our goal completely.
One of the other ways we can predispose ourselves to failure is to try to work on multiple goals at the same time. The Power of Habit discusses starting with a keystone habit. A keystone habit could be, “I will drink only two sodas a week for 60 days.” Success with this goal provides that win that is needed and can start a cascade of positive changes. The most important thing you can do is give yourself grace during any period you are working on life change goals. Certain weeks will be busy and challenging. It is vital to perform self-reflection on these weeks when you are not able to resist old cravings. You are winning the war. You just happened to lose the fight for today. Picture looking down on yourself from a mental balcony and focusing on your successful days instead of your one day of failure. Reflect on your why. Why do you care about changing? Why is continuing to work on your keystone habit important to you? Answer those questions and write down the answers. Put them down under your WHY so that you can reflect and reinforce your changes when you have another bad day.
Action Step for Today: If you are working on a lifestyle change goal and haven’t written down your why take some time to do that today. Write it down under your SMART and stretch goals or incorporate it into both of them.
Looking Ahead: Next week, I will discuss what impact a community has on our ability to maintain a commitment to lifestyle change.