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Intentional Living –  Why Why Why?


After a couple of weeks attempting to focus on process as a cure for my ongoing lack of motivation to continue committing to my long term plan of less pain and better health, I have observed a few things. In particular I’ve noticed that having a process to follow does not automatically mean you are going to follow it. In fact, it just makes it more obvious that you’re failing miserably to follow that process.

This in itself is not a bad thing. By focusing on process you are immediately aware that you are not measuring up, as opposed to waiting until results day to find out.

I’ve also become aware of how I am failing to meet the requirements of my process and it’s led me to start thinking about addressing some of these areas. 

Most importantly, I’ve found that simply having a process to follow does not automatically create the motivation to follow it and that this is still the biggest barrier. This has led me to the conclusion that it’s all about the Why.

Why am I doing this? Why do I need to focus on process?

Without a strong Why for change I believe it’s easy for the part of our brain that prefers comfort, rest and a lack of discomfort of any kind to convince us that our need for change is much less urgent that our need to eat cookies, sleep or watch TV.

Early last year, when I realised that my lifestyle and weight gain was contributing to my then constant back pain I made the decision to do something about it. At that time, the pain I was in was motivating enough to lead to the loss of 8 kg (17.6 lbs) over the course of a year. While I did have setbacks during the year, I remained focused on my plan and my Why.

I began to lose motivation over the holiday period. With a great deal of weight loss already under my belt, I began to relax. I had less pain and my Why started to recede into the background. I ate more, exercised less and sat on the couch more. Over the last few months, I’ve gained a few pounds and surprise surprise, my back and leg pain has returned with a vengeance.

So ironically my Why is now back.

The challenge now is to keep my Why in the forefront of my mind and find ways to remind myself when I get distracted or tired. Right now it’s easy due to constant discomfort. I worry however that in a few months I will begin to forget my Why again and the whole slide back into complacency will begin again.

I don’t yet have the solution for how I’m going to overcome this but I’ll definitely be reflecting on it over the next few months. If only we had a way of recording past pain like a video or photograph to reflect on later. Maybe I’ll start a pain journal to remind myself about how much pain takes over your life and prevents you from doing what you want to do. Maybe I’ll just convince a friend to poke me in the back with something sharp whenever I get too close to the ever present cake at work. Either way, I don’t want to come back to this place of pain again. As I’ve done in the past I’m taking some inspiration from Leo Babauta of zen habits and an inspiring article on why we have trouble sticking with our plans for change and how to overcome this.

I’m planning to not lose track of my Why this time.

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