Understanding Your WHY? – Key Factor to Lasting Change

So what is your WHY? Shawna.. What are you even talking about?! This sounds pretty out there.

Understanding your WHY.. or your ultimate personal reason(s) for wanting to improve your heart health & overall health is one of the key elements in being able to actually achieve improvement. I promise it’s not a hocus pocus thing.

To get a real handle on this.. I want to talk to you about internal & external motivation. Internal motivation is when we take action on something purely because we want to. It fits with who we are as a person, our values, beliefs and goals. An example of this is someone who goes camping because they love the feeling of being in nature.

External motivation is when we take action on something due to something outside of ourselves. A reward perhaps like money, food, or a trip to the spa. An external motivator can also be to avoid punishment, like if you don’t show up to work, you’ll lose your job. External motivators can be other people.. Good or bad. It can be trying to please someone else, because someone asked you to do something, or to avoid making someone upset with you.

What we know is that our choices and actions that become habits or stick around for the long term tend to be because Internal motivation. If we feel we want to.. Purely because it matters to us, is aligned with who we are as a person, and we feel personally benefited by that action.. We are more likely to keep taking that action.

What we know about internal motivation:

  • Helps us in the long term
  • Helps us overcome complex tasks
  • Helps us with problem solving
  • Allows us to be more creative

Now looking at the list above, let’s relate it to any goal we have tried to achieve in our lives. What we know for sure is that most of the time, when we are working towards a goal… we will be faced with obstacles. Life is full of obstacles. Some we can work to prevent, and others we simply have no ability to predict or have any control over. So when we are faced with these inevitable obstacles.. We need to be able to problem solve, sometimes we need to be creative in coming up with a solution. Often reaching our goal is not a simple process.. It’s not a straight line from A to B. It involves complex tasks. This is where internal motivation is the key.

This is why understanding your WHY.. why is it that YOU want to be healthy? Why does this matter to YOU? What are YOU doing this for? Is an important exercise in bringing up what YOUR internal motivators are. Getting clear about what is driving you. What keeps you going. So that WHEN the inevitable obstacles rear there nastly little heads.. You can focus on your WHY.. problem solve, be creative in finding a solution, and ultimately keep taking the action steps that will lead you to your goal.

So what about External Motivators.. Don’t they matter? YES!!

External Motivators:

  • Help in the short term
  • Help with simple Non-complex tasks
  • Help in getting started or overcoming a hump

Life is full of having to do things we don’t necessarily want to do, or would ideally choose for ourselves. Take going to the dentist!! In the realm of heart health and taking action to improve our health.. We are faced with TONS of choices every day! Do we eat that chocolate or grab an apple? Do we go for a walk or scroll through facebook? Do we go to bed or watch just a little more TV? Having our big internal motivators to help set the foundation is fantastic.. But sometimes we need a little boost to help us make the decision that we know is best. (Remembering nobody is perfect.. Nor should we strive to be) So setting up a bit of a reward system can be helpful.. Specifically when we can relate it to more straightforward A to B tasks. For example. I can say today.. If I go for my walk today in the snow, I will reward myself with a hot bubble bath when I get home. The hot bubble bath is my external motivator to get that action of going for a walk done! It’s a simple if I do this.. Then I get that. Not a lot of problem solving or creativity needed. In these types of situations, external motivators can be great.

Examples of external motivators: There are lots more that this.. Here are some examples.

  • Food – careful with this one.. It can be a slippery slope
  • Money/books/clothing – any item.
  • Praise or to avoid negativity from others
  • Experiences – trips, outings with friends/family, hot bath, alone time, working in the shop or enjoying a hobby.
  • Physical appearances – This is a big one.. I want to lose weight so I look better. – This striving for a physical appearance is not something that typically holds up long term – Unless the real reason is something much deeper and internal!

So at the basis of it all.. A fantastic ACTION STEP to take right now.. Is to spend some time thinking about your WHY. Write it down and keep it somewhere you can refer to when you need it. Tell a friend or family member so they can help support your goals and understand where you are coming from.

Come and join us in our Living Heart Health Community on Facebook – I would love to connect directly!
Click here to join in → https://www.facebook.com/groups/1593882627418122

Talk to you soon!
Pulse Cardiac Health
Improving Heart Health – One Heart at a time.

Shawna Cook

Shawna is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, who has been working in Cardiac Rehabilitation for over 10 years. Her years in the health and fitness field however have spanned over the past 2+ decades. As an elite level athlete she fell in love with understanding the human body, and how the choices she made, affected how it performed. This led to a degree from the University of Winnipeg in the stream of Athletic Therapy, and the passion towards helping others recover from injury and "be their best selves" grew.