The Best Motivation for Lasting Change

02.17.23 |

When you set out on your health journey, what is or was your biggest desire? Was it to lose weight? Was it to look better in the mirror? How about having more energy?

I would argue that it’s none of these. The biggest outcome we pursue in our health journeys is also the most misunderstood: We desire lasting change.

Yes, we want all of the other rewards, but when so many of us have suffered through yo-yo diets – losing weight only to gain it back, and then some – or the pain of never seeing any progress at all. In fact, that fear that the change won’t last is likely one of the biggest obstacles for people who want to start but just can’t ever picture themselves truly succeeding. Why bother if you’ll end up back where you started?

The wellness industry wants you to believe that the secret to lasting change is hidden in the latest fad diet, the newest exercise device, or compressed into a bottle of supplements. The real secret to lasting change is understanding your “why?”

Lasting Motivation for Lasting Change

The external factors that push us to get healthier, like a loved one who is worried about our health or a doctor who warns you about the direct of your health, do matter, but they are also fleeting. These external motivations are often rooted in emotional conflict, which is the desire to resolve tension or to make someone else happy.

If we are motivated by these types of emotions and feelings, we are likely to look for quick fixes and to find help from someone else rather than look to ourselves. When we look outside of ourselves, we give away any power we have to make real change in our life. We are going to tap into something much more powerful: Your “why?”

Your “why?” is your intrinsic motivation and your highest stimulus for change. It drives you into action because it’s what you want to do. It inspires you to grow and be better. And when you’re doing something that inspires, you want to share your desire with others and increase your level of engagement. It creates a “whatever it takes” mindset and becomes a powerful ally in your path to success.

That level of engagement is more sustainable and more reliable than any other source of motivation.

Finding Your Why

If you flip to page 42 in Your LifeBook, you can find an in-depth series of exercises where I guide you through finding and refining your “why?” For now, though, we can get started right here in this moment.

Find a quiet time to complete this exercise:

Write out a description of why you want to change. Make sure these are things that motivate you to create health and bring what you want into your life. Not what someone else wants, not what society wants, what you want. Also, avoid writing negative reasons for stopping or phrases built around problem-solving such as “I hate the way I look.”

For me, my deepest “why?” is that I know that every choice I make in my health journey can give me more time to spend with my daughters. I want to have as many memories with them as I can, and I know that my health is critical for that. When I don’t feel like working out or I’m tempted to over-indulge, I remind myself of what I really want in my life.

That transforms my choices. I am no longer deciding whether or not I want to exercise, I’m deciding whether or not I want to do the things that can give me more time with my children. With that “why?” clearly fixed in my mind, the choice is easy.

You can have that same power.