Before we can introduce positive change in our daily lives, we have to first determine our personal purpose—the “why” in our lives. Here’s how to find yours.
In the longer, more relaxed days of summer, I found myself with a little more time to be philosophical about life. I was reflecting on the importance of knowing our “why” in life.
In his book Start with Why, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek argues that when we figure out our “why”—the purpose and/or belief that inspires us in life—we create a “filter to make choices, at work and home, that will help [us] find greater fulfillment in all that [we] do.”
Our daily lives are a series of habits. Big or small, our habits structure our days. Finding our “why” is essential when it comes to forming positive daily habits and changes that we want to make in our lives.
When I used to work in public health, much of my time was spent trying to change other people’s behaviour. Needless to say, I was not always successful! The thinking then was that if we gave people information and explained the risks of why certain behaviour was bad or unhealthy, they would stop doing it. As you might expect, however, this was hardly the case.
People know that smoking is bad for their health—yet many still smoke. Kids know that wearing a helmet when riding a bike can save their lives and yet they don’t always wear one. I knew for years that exercising was essential for good health and yet I could not stick to an exercise routine for more than a few months.
So why not? Why is it so hard to simply stop doing the things we shouldn’t and start doing the things we should?
Alas, there are many complex theories on the reasons why. As Simon Sinek says, we find the “why” in our lives. When we know our purpose and have a good sense of our values, we stand a far better chance of sticking with a new habit.
Your “why” is totally personal—yours will be different than the person next to you. But as long as your “why” resonates with you and you can sum it up easily, it will guide you.
For me, this concept was a game changer when it came to exercise. I knew, of course, that I should exercise, but I also had a lot of reasons why I couldn’t. A full-time job, small children, a busy life… Exercise was a luxury that I didn’t feel I could afford. Then my life changed when I found myself experiencing menopause at the age of 41. Most of the symptoms were out of my control, but exercising to help prevent osteoporosis was something that I could control—and was all the motivation I needed. This was the “why” for me. Trying not to break any bones is what finally got me committed to an exercise plan.
What is it that you want to change in your life? Think about the reason why you want to incorporate a certain habit into your day or invest in a certain relationship. Why is it worth your time and effort?
In order to be successful, your “why” should be very clear and easy to sum up in a single sentence. Try filling in these blanks:
Today, I will start/stop __________________ because _________________________.
By completing this sentence, you stand the best chance of starting (or stopping) that behaviour today! Your own personal “why” will guide you and the habits that make up your day.
As always, I would love to hear if you tried this exercise and were successful in making a positive change.
Nutritional planning is integral to achieve your optimal athletic performance. Gazelle Nutrition Lab delivers one on one or group nutritional counselling and consulting to both recreational and high-performance athletes. Also, the Food For Thought Blog is a free resource for healthy recipes and health tips. Have questions? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch!