You’ve known for some time that you want to improve your health. You’re carrying extra pounds you can’t seem to drop, or you lack energy to enjoy your kids after work, or you feel like your concentration is lacking and your brain is foggy. You’ve made plans to change, perhaps joining a gym, perhaps buying a weight loss supplement you saw advertised, perhaps setting a New Year’s resolution to eat less fast food, but after months or years you find nothing has really worked, you’ve not been able to change your habits, and you’re in roughly the same shape now as when you decided to change. Should you just give up?
Of course the answer I’ll give you is a hearty “no!” With all my heart I believe you can make meaningful changes if you want and you take a correct approach. To do so you’ll need a system that shows you the proper choices to make and helps you to make these choices consistently. You’ll need a system that addresses your metabolism and your mindset. If you’ve ever thought “I know what I should do, I just don’t know why I don’t do it” then read on!
Let’s Build a System
Over the next 3 posts, I’d like to introduce one system, one way of thinking, that is designed to help you move forward. This system is based on my experience over 15 years practicing as an endocrinologist, focused on helping people live healthier lives, seeing what has worked for people and what holds them back. It is based on my passion for understanding human behavior, neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology and using this information to help people overcome inertia and consistently take quality
action. Finally, it is based on my belief that you were made for a purpose. You have a unique gift that you were meant to offer the world, and the world needs to hear your voice. But if you don’t have the energy or drive or ability to be at your best, then your gift will be lost. We can’t let that happen.
To give you a roadmap for what we will cover, I’ll introduce a 5-step system for consistently improving your health. You can use this system any time you want and to improve any area of your health. We will discuss step #1 – Aspiration – now. Steps 2-5 will be covered in future posts.
The 5 steps are:
a strong desire to achieve something high or great
We start with Aspiration because I want you to move from thinking about what should change to what must change. Rather than responding to what other people, or the media, or the culture says about your health, I want you to understand what you want for your health and why it is important to you. What do you want from your life?
Aspiration helps you to focus on your purpose. The Japanese use the word ikigai to describe purpose in life. In Costa Rica it is called plan de vida. You might think of it as “why you get up in the morning.”
Studies have shown that having a sense of purpose helps us to live happier, longer, healthier lives. Viktor
Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning, stated that a strong sense of purpose often arises from (1) a desire
to create something of value, (2) a desire to love or nurture a person or group of people, or (3) a desire
to bear suffering well and be transformed by it. Does one of these resonate with you?
I like this 10-minute TED talk by Adam Leipzig as a useful tool to get your initial thoughts moving. He states you can learn your life’s purpose by answering these 5 questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- What do those people want or need?
- How do these people change or grow as a result of what you do for them?
Notice that 3 of these 5 questions are focused on others. Fulfillment of your purpose is likely to involve
helping others solve problems and grow. Purpose can be a hard concept to grasp, so don’t worry if you
need more time to ponder these ideas. You may find it useful to ask yourself these questions and then
return to them after a day or two.
Getting back to your aspiration, your purpose, and why it is important to you, try answering these
- What do you most want to accomplish in your life? Do you wish to build or create something?
- Are you called to love or care for a particular person or group (spouse, children, the homeless, etc.)?
- What would completing this accomplishment mean? How would it make you feel?
- Why is this important to you?
Next, let’s examine how your current health affects your aspiration:
- Does your current health limit you in your ability to accomplish what you want? If so, how? Do
- you see your health limiting you in your future?
- What do you wish was different about your health? Why?
- If your health improves, what will that allow you to accomplish? How will that make you feel?
- What will happen if your health doesn’t change? What will this mean?
- Can you think of anything about your health that must change right now?
Aspiration. Purpose. Why is improving your health important to you? Understanding this question is the first key step toward making meaningful improvement in your health where you’ve stumbled before. When you transition from something should change to something must change, progress will be hard to stop.
In the next post we will explore steps 2-4, Attention-Intention-Action, and how a few simple steps will let you start improving your health immediately.