What does it mean to organize your life around what matters most?
The Habits of Health Transformational System takes a big-picture view of health because our health and wellbeing are interwoven into all aspects of our lives. Through my work in critical care and now OPTAVIA, I have seen time and time again that change does not last if we take a very narrow view of health.
Knowing what foods are healthy is not enough. We also have to comb the minefield of triggers that make us reach for sugary treats or alcohol when we have a bad day or when we feel stressed and anxious. To do that in a way that leads to a true health transformation means casting a net that goes beyond nutrition and exercise.
We have to look at the whole of our lives. We have to become more mindful of our emotions and our choices. We have to recognize when a habit loop is making an unhealthy choice automatic, and we have to learn how to take that habit apart, rewiring it so that we can respond in a healthy way.
There is a lot we could talk about on this topic, but for this article, I want to focus on a core idea that can help you in all aspects of your health: Organizing your life around what matters most to you.
When we understand what truly matters in our lives, we can make that our north star, the guiding light that we structure all of our choices and habits around. When we don’t take the time to find that north star, our lives become chaotic and haphazard. We lurch from day to day just trying to get through to the next. It’s an awful feeling, and it might be one you have felt before.
With a north star in place, you can ask yourself, “Does this choice move me closer or farther from my goal?”
For many of our clients, what matters most to them is usually a combination of:
- Wanting to be with their families and to have as much time as possible to create new memories with them
- Making a difference in their communities and the world as a whole
- Finding financial freedom to enable their other, more meaningful goals
That does not mean the choices will be simple or easy, but the clarity is powerful. When I stepped back from my life and recognized what really mattered to me, I made the following choices:
- I left my role at a major hospital to pursue a path that would impact more lives
- I moved my family around the country as part of my work but also to give my children access to more life experiences
- I began to balance my time, setting aside time to be with my family instead of working nonstop
Reading this, you might not be a physician like I was, but I have found that my story is not so different from many of the people I meet. Like me, they got caught up in the momentum of their careers or what they perceived to be their obligations, and before they knew it they were driving to the office before the sun came up and driving home after the sun had gone down. They were tired. They were stressed. They felt unfulfilled, and they barely saw the people they loved.
When they find their north stars, remarkable things happen. Choosing what kind of meal to have is no longer just about fitting into tighter jeans. It’s about living longer so that they can be present in the lives of their children. Choosing to switch jobs is not just about the paycheck. It’s about working in a healthier place, lowering stress, and finding a better work/life balance. Choosing to go for a walk is not just about the calories. It’s about clearing your mind and lowering your anxiety so that you can make more thoughtful decisions.
I don’t expect anyone to transform their lives overnight, so don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. For now, start by answering the question, “What matters most to you?” and spend some time journaling around how your daily choices support or do not support that answer. You might find that after a week of reflection you have a new roadmap for what your healthier life could look like.