Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mission to Change

At yesterday, we created a session to talk about behavior change particularly as it relates to health and wellness. Behavior change, and figuring out how to get people to make positive choices for their health, is critical for our future. Diseases and conditions caused by lifestyle choices are eating our healthcare system alive and will take our economy down as well.

Yesterday, we made a quick list of the most obvious reasons people begin to change their behavior:
  • Medical diagnosis (diabetes, heart disease being the most popular)
  • Death of a friend or family member
  • Pressure from our kids (worked great for smoking and seat belt use)
There are more but those, generally, are the biggies. What seldom makes the list are things like: "I know better." Why is that? We know we shouldn't smoke and yet some of us do. We know we should get, at least, some exercise each day and most of us don't. We know soda lacks any useful health properties, yet we drink it by the gallon. Some call this the "intent-behavior" gap. I mean to do the right thing, I just don't.

The holy grail? Figuring out why and doing something about it. I have a theory: People aren't making the best choices for their health because they haven't figured out their own purpose or mission.

To explore this theory, I asked a fellow HealthCamper (Doug from Infield Health) this question, "What got you out of bed this morning?" Doug's answer can best be summed up as wanting to make a difference, in healthcare and for his family. I asked the other group members to think about it, too. And, wondered with Greg from BreadForTheCity if such a question would be an important part of the work he does with their clients.

I contend if you are passionate about life, if you're working on something bigger than yourself and are driving toward your own important mission, you're more likely to make good choices for your own health. Why? Because you have work to do and you want to be sure you'll have the energy and health to see your "project" through to the end.

I'm beginning to think the "mission" part of life is the most important and perhaps more powerful than all of the exercise you can get and all of the vegetables you can eat. Perhaps we're going at this "wellness" thing from the wrong angle all together.

Maybe we need to help each person figure out their own personal mission and then support them to get there. After all, when you're working on something really important to you, there isn't anything that will get in your way.

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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