Posted on June 17th, 2010 by Jeff Thiboutot M.S.
We all have things we will do no matter what. We consider these things to be top priorities in our life. For example, most people will take a shower daily, eat a few times a day, and go to work for 8 or more hours, the core necessities. But what about all the other stuff that ranks very high on the priority list or takes up the bulk of our time every day? The other things that you make sure you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis no matter what. Some examples include getting your haircut, having your nails done, playing Facebook games, watching certain TV shows or sporting events, going shopping, going out to dinner and so on. For many people these things will dominate their top priorities and will use up most of their available time. As fun and enjoyable as these things are, they typically do not contribute to achieving a high level of success in life. This does not mean that these activities have to be completely avoided. My point here is that many people have a priorities list that is dysfunctional. People tend to focus on, and succumb to, immediate gratification. There is no or little focus on the long-term benefits/consequences of their actions. The result of this type of thinking and behavior is very negative as is evidenced by the average economic and health status of many people. What can be done to improve this situation?
First, there are no shortcuts to success and happiness. It takes persistent effort. In fact, it is the effort that really gives us the deep feeling of accomplishment. Without some effort, sometimes a lot of effort, attaining some goal or reward will have little meaning and the potential high from achieving it will be fleeting.
All the information so far has been a build-up to a discussion of your nutrition and fitness priorities. However, the information can be applied to any behavior you would like to modify. It seems that many people, from my experience with many clients and the clinical research, put the nutrition and exercise aspects of their life, and therefore their health, low on their priority list. Or it may be high on the list but it easily gets bumped down by many other things. Why is this?
There are many reasons why a person does not make eating well and exercising regularly top priorities. A few of the reasons are legitimate, but most of them are poor reasons to justify the neglect. Regardless of the reasons, most people have the time to eat well and exercise a little. In fact, eating well will often take no more time than eating poorly. But, for arguments sake, let’s say it takes an extra 30 minutes a day to do it. Do you not have 30 more minutes in your day to be able to nourish your body properly? Again, this is about priorities. Do you need to watch 2 hours of TV a night? Do you need to surf the web for 2 hours a day? There is no doubt that you want to do these things. However, do these latter things really contribute to the “good life”?
When it comes to exercise, 30 minutes a few times a week can have significant health benefits. Exercising more can possibly be better, but for most people, who just want to be able to function well in daily life, hold-back some of the effects of aging, and be able to play with their kids or grandkids, then this amount of exercise can do the trick (more on the specific exercises in another article). Do you not have 90 minutes a week? Really, is this amount of time not available? I would guess it is, but you have probably scheduled other things to do, for right now, that you considered more important. This brings us back to priorities.
The first step to setting your priorities is to spend some time and figure out what YOU want. Think of this as your personal vision quest. Do YOU want to feel good, physically and mentally, most of the time? Do you want to feel comfortable with how you look? Do you want to be able to do some physical activities with friends and family? Do you want to increase your chances of living a long and healthy life? You need to really want these results and be able to envision the benefits you will receive from putting in a bit of time and effort. If you do not cultivate a deep, passionate, emotional feeling connected to the exercise and nutrition habits then the likelihood that you will change your priorities is unlikely, particularly for the long-term.
If you want to look and feel better then you need to prioritize your life in a way that will facilitate daily habits that will move you in that direction. There are many techniques that help can help your motivation levels and ability to stick to your plan, such as setting SMART goals, journaling, and getting a mentor or coach. For now focus on creating a compelling vision in your head and on paper. Huge time commitments are not needed, but consistent effort is. If YOU really want to change, then stop the excuses and begin prioritizing your time.