#116 The Right Why

vs. The Wrong Why (Yours?)

Michelle Segar is one of the world’s leading researchers studying the science of how to optimize our engagement in healthy behaviors—stuff like eating well, exercising, getting more sleep and all that.

She tells us that the reasons we choose to engage in these behaviors matter. Some people have the “Right Why.” And, some people have the “Wrong Why.”

Getting our “Why” right is super important. That’s the focus of Today’s +1.

So, here’s the deal.

Michelle can bring people into a lab and ask them WHY they would like to engage in a certain health behavior like exercising.

Some people tell her they want to exercise for abstract, clinical reasons like losing weight or generally getting healthier. (Very normal, “good” reasons but, as we’ll discover, not very effective.)

Other people will tell her that they want to exercise for very concrete reasons: They want to enhance the quality of their daily lives. They want to feel more energized NOW. It’s not some abstract, long-term thing. It’s an immediate benefit and they know that engaging in a certain behavior like exercising (or eating well or sleeping) will give them that benefit.

As it turns out, MOST people choose abstract reasons. In fact, 75% of the people in her research came up with the fuzzy reasons while only 25% chose the concrete reasons.

But get this: When Michelle tracks the exercise levels of the individuals in her studies, here’s what she finds: The group that says they want to exercise for the fuzzy reasons exercises 30% LESS than the group that gave the “I want to feel better today!” reasons.

We’re wired to want IMMEDIATE gratification. Therefore, we want to choose the Right Why that delivers that immediate gain.


Spotlight on you: Why do YOU want to exercise more or eat better or get a better night of sleep?

Do you tend to have abstract (“Lose weight!” “Get healthier!”) reasons or more concrete (“Feel great now!!”) reasons?

Optimize your why.

KNOW (!!!) that choosing to engage in your desired health behaviors will make you feel better IMMEDIATELY.

That’s the Right Why.

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