Each morning I wake up with a why in my heart and head; sometimes two! What is a why? A “why” is the motivation for taking on something difficult and the purpose for doing so. A why drives you forward even when you feel you can’t go on. Why’s are imperative to change a bad habit or get out of a rut.
I did not always have a why nearby. I did not have an overall cause or purpose from 2007 to 2014. I wandered without a why, for those seven years. In the process, I gained over 100 pounds, lost my drive, and in general was a bear to be around. The years of wandering without a why are described in this blog: Fit to Fat: Lessons Learned While Doubling My Weight
Then three things hit simultaneously at the end of 2014 that got me back on track. First, I learned that I had a serious health issue caused in part by my weight. Second, I received an invite to my 30th West Point Reunion. Third, I received a discount to Weight Watchers (now WW) through my company. The three combined to develop that first why. I decided to lose weight and increase fitness to look presentable for my 30th reunion and regain my health!
I was introduced to the power of “why” at Weight Watchers and have expanded my understanding through my own story and experience. Here are 4 things you need to implement your unique why.
1. Visualize Your Why. It is important to have a visual representation as to the outcome you want to obtain. A visual representation serves to remind you why you are making the change and helps to keep you motivated when times get tough. One way to do that is to create a Vision Board; a series of pictures and text snippets that visualize your goal.
Below you see the visual representation of my first “why” that I created at WW on the Hay House Vision Board app (located here Hay House Vision Board). I wanted to do two things as represented in this Vision Board: to lose weight to look decent for my reunion and to get healthy in memory of my parents. Pictures include my company from West Point, a picture of my parents, my WP graduation picture, a picture at near peak weight with a classmate, an image of my family, and me working out in support of my mission! I topped it all off with my class moto “For Excellence We Strive, 85”.
I looked at the Vision Board each day. It drove forward when times got tough. I looked at it after getting through TSA with my CPAP machine, so I could get good rest on a work trip. Or when hitting the hotel gym at 9 PM after work. Or when avoiding a beer and eating vegetables at the concierge lounge. Slowly but surely it kept my eye on the prize as I lost 100 lbs. before the reunion.
2. Adapt Your Why. Once you obtain one “why”, focus on another. Whys are not static. The excellence of today is the mediocrity of tomorrow. A new reason or mission can drive you on to greater things. Here are three of my subsequent “Why’s” to show you what I mean.
First, my reunion served to stoke two new motivations. Having lost 100 pounds, I wanted to lose the other 50+ lbs to achieve Lifetime designation on WW. Second, I wanted to do something to remember a fellow officer who was lost in Afghanistan by supporting returning Veterans. Combining the two, I created my second Why that led to the creation of the McEvoy Memorial Walk in support of the Merivis Foundation. I trained from August to Veterans Day in 2015 to walk 50 miles in one day in support of Merivis and the Young Marines of the Capital Area (read more here Go Big to Get Small – The Art of Improbable Goals ). In the process, this why drove me to my Lifetime weight goal and raised funding for these worthy organizations. Here is a YouTube clip on the walk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaaijB9ybX4
My next goal was to maintain my weight and support the children of St. Jude’s by becoming a Certified Spin Instructor and riding the entire 4-hour St. Jude’s Ride for a Reason. I talk about this motivation in the following blog Spinning is Winning! A Ride for A Reason.
Spinning helped me maintain my weight, diversify my exercise regime, help a worthy cause, and gain a new skill. Now I was ready to play it forward with my current Why.
My current why came about due to two events: a milestone birthday and the ongoing pandemic. Having been given so much, I wanted to pass it on to others. I came up with a new acronym for my Why – CRAFT. The acronym stands for Coach, Religious, Author, Friend, and Teacher. You can read more about CRAFT here 5 by 5, Rumination on a Milestone.
In simple terms, I wake up each day whether in this blog, my continued workouts, or wellness programs paying it forward. It is now my mission to teach others how to heal both their body and soul, especially during this difficult time. To impart what I have learned through example, stories, and wellness programs. Read about one such wellness program called Peloton Pandemic Pandemonium here .
3. Share your Why. When you determine your why, do not keep it to yourself. Share it with friends and family to help prod you on and keep you on track. The ability to share helps you immensely. I am grateful both to my WW Round Rock Saturday group and my sister in law Sheri and niece Rachel for creating Facebook groups. These communities allowed me to share my motivation and progress toward health. Live and share your why with friends to keep moving forward!
4. Wake Up with Your Why. I end with the beginning. Each day you can take concrete steps to wake up with your why. I accomplish this through journaling and meditation. I use the Kindness Journal (located here Kindness Journal) to help prompt me along to realizing my why.
Each day I record three “I am statements” to help me visualize my end goal. Here is a recent example in pursuit of my current why: “I am a devoted coach that passes on the lessons that have served me on my health journey to improve the lives of others”. I also visualize my favorite moment from the day before and list the thing that I will do today to help make the world better. The journal helps me focus on why I was put on this earth. Along with meditation in the form of prayer, I remain fixed and progressing towards my why.
In closing, do not wander and wallow in the unknown without a why. Instead, visualize your why with these four simple tricks and build a better future for yourself and others!