Dr Peggy Marshall

What is Your Why?

As spring approaches, we anticipate new growth emerging from its’ sleep. What are you waking up to? Are you feeling drawn to do something new, try something new or just reaffirm commitments you made at the beginning of the year?

Even though you are feeling the pull towards something different, that may not be enough for you to truly change a behavior. Simon Sinek in “Start with Why” tells us that the “why” we are doing something is the most critical aspect of engaging in the new behavior. He suggests that everything we say and do proves what we believe. While Sinek applies his principles to a corporation, I believe that we can make these same applications to personal behavior change. What are your reasons for deciding to make a change? Are you feeling it in your heart and soul or are you feeling pressure from the outside to become different? When you make your list of “why” you want to change something, are you inspired by the list or do you feel compelled to change by someone or something else?

What gets in the way of our “whys”? Excuses! Wayne Dyer in “Excuses Be Gone!” tells us that power of our beliefs to keep us stuck is enormous. Dyer continues with the analogy that these beliefs act as chains restricting us from experiencing our true destiny. When put this way, it becomes the motivation for us to find a way to remove excuses from our lives. Do you want to exercise more but do not have the time. Do you want to eat healthier but your family won’t eat the healthier foods. Do you want to focus on a change but have too much on your plate. Sometimes these excuses are extremely subtle and we don’t even realize we are making them. This is a dangerous place to be as they will sabotage change efforts. Once you are crystal clear on your “why” and you are ready to leave your excuses behind, you are ready for you “whats” and “hows”. In order to support your “why” in changing, you have to decide on “what” needs to happen for success.

When coaching clients I guide them to think about their “what” to change by determining what problem or issue is creating the most concern and yet ensuring that “what” is something the client is willing and able to own. Another factor to consider is whether the “what” you are going to change could have an impact on something else that is a problem for you. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, an exercise program will help with that goal. Another example would be if you want to manage your time more effectively, it could have an impact on stress. When zeroing in on your “what” you have to make sure that the benefit outweighs the cost. It is critical that as we make choices about behavior changes we recognize that there is a cost to change. Making a list of what the change requires can help highlight the cost in such a way that you can be realistic about whether you are ready for that particular “what”. Finally, as Jack Canfield shares in “Principles of Success”, the secret to making your “what” work for you is breaking complex tasks into small manageable tasks in order to create success for yourself.

We complete the cycle with the “how”. You have crafted your “why”. You know “what” you are about to change, now the focus is on “how” to do it. As humans, we tend to focus in on one strategy while ignoring ones that might be equally effective. I like the number 3-what are three routes you could take to accomplishing your goal? Of those three strategies which ones are the best fit for your resources? Which one is the most powerful in that it will give you a quick start towards success? And which one will have the least amount of downside? As we evaluate options, we tend to favor one choice over another. In this step we have to guard against that favoritism and be completely honest with ourselves when making the choice of “how”. Whatever you choose as your “how”, you have to be able create excitement about the “how”. Chip Conley in “Emotional Equations”  tells us that in order to be successful at anything we have to have a certain amount of drive or pull towards the new behavior. His equation of “Flow=Skill/Challenge” represents the best of the “how” component of change. Ultimately, you have to have the excitement about the new behavior in order for the new behavior to become part of the new you.

Having a clear “why” for change is critical to success. Being able to include your “what” and “how” primes the pump for success.

To Your Success!
Dr. Peggy