Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
Today’s guest post is offered up by one of our own, Erin Power. She’s our awesome Student and Graduate Support Lead for the Primal Health Coach Program as well as an amazingly successful health coach in her own right. I love her message of starting out the year with a solid, actionable goal in hand—and a practical takeaway for defining that New Year objective. Enjoy, everyone!
There’s a tide shift happening—and it’s exciting and inspiring to be a part of it.
Within my health coaching practice, I’m finding the entire vernacular changing. When I ask my prospective clients what their Main Health Goals are, I’m not hearing things like “I want to look good in my swimsuit on my beach vacation.” Or, “I want to rock a body-conscious outfit at my high school reunion.” Or even “I want to lose X number of pounds by X day of the year.”
Check out these quotes from some of my client Intake Forms over the last six months:
“I have an unhealthy relationship with food; I have a sugar addiction and constant food obsession. I need to get rid of all of this.”
“I’m looking for the lifestyle change, and to gain a better understanding of how food works in relationship to my body.”
“I’m uncertain of the foods I should be eating and the workouts I am doing. I need help reorganizing my eating, drinking, sleeping and workout habits.”
“My body feels out of sorts. I want to increase my energy and my overall sense of wellbeing.”
“I have been obsessed about food for my entire life. I just want to understand it all, once and for all.”
When people are put on the spot—and about to make a financial investment in improving their health—they spend some time really thinking about how to specifically articulate their health goals.
They put a lot more time into it than most of us put into our New Year’s Resolutions, which often end up looking a lot like the same hastily-scribbled list from last year.
And that’s a big reason why New Year’s Resolutions don’t work.
A benign list, with no emotion behind it—no strategy, no incentive, no WHY—will almost always fall short in the motivation category. There’s no skin in the game. I’m not talking about a financial investment. I’m talking about an emotional one. A spiritual one.
The Why-by-Five exercise is a tool that I use with my health coaching clients to help them uncover their true motivating factors for change. Those same old resolutions make it onto the list each year for a reason, and I think we can agree it would be nice to move the needle on a few of them—once and for all. This exercise helps us get to the root. All you have to do is ask yourself WHY, five times.
Allow me to share an example:
My Main Health Goal for 2018 is, as always, improved mobility. Except, that’s too vague. And the way I know it’s too vague is because I literally make this New Year’s Resolution every year and have never once stuck to it.
Let’s go deeper:
I want to practice my barefoot Grok Squat daily, keeping my feet in a relatively neutral position and my chest lifted. I’d like to work up to holding this for ten straight minutes.
Better! Now we work that specific, measurable, realistic goal through the WHYx5 exercise:
Why is that important to me?
The lack of mobility through my hips and lumbar spine has prevented me from progressing in both my strength and conditioning program, and my yoga practice.
Why does that matter?
Because I want a really capable body that can do all kinds of badass things, including lifting and bending.
Why is that important?
Because I feel like I’m just going through the motions with my fitness right now, and I want to really optimize the function of my body as I move into middle age.
Why would that be great to achieve?
Because I’ve watched so many people descend into old age and infirmity, and I believe there is a better fate for us—for me! I don’t believe we are destined to be confined to walkers and wheelchairs, and much of this is in my control.
Because I want to know that well into middle age and beyond I’ll be able to trust my body to shoulder the burden of performing badass human tasks like lifting heavy in the gym, training and exercising my horses, playing sports, and just being able to be out DOING awesome things.
From there, simply splice all of those well-thought out intentions together, to achieve an articulate goal worth reaching for.
Here is inspiration I can stick on the front of the fridge:
My 2018 goal is to practice my barefoot Grok Squat daily so that I can keep my feet in a relatively neutral position and my chest lifted, and I’d like to work up to being able to hold this for ten minutes. This will lessen the physical restrictions through my hips and lumbar spine, and enable me to trust my body to shoulder the burden of performing badass human tasks well into middle-age and beyond.
Okay now you go.
Download the WHYx5 exercise here (PDF printable), fill it out yourself, and share your 2018 goal(s) on the comment board. What are you reaching for, and what’s your why behind that desire?
Thanks for reading, everyone, and Happy New Year!
— Erin Power, CHNC, PHC