Finding Your Motivation

Copyright 2006 John Perry

In a recent “experiment” performed by a Yale economics professor Barry Nalebuff on ABC’s Primetime live, subjects were challenged to lose 15 pounds and their only motivation was threat of shame.

The participants had to lose 15 pounds or pictures of them at their “before weight” in tiny bathing suits would be shown on primetime TV.

“Primetime” put that theory to the test with five volunteers who have had lifelong struggles with their weight. Everything they’ve tried has failed, in large part, they admit, because the consequences of being overweight, although serious, didn’t seem imminent.

One aspect of game theory purports that more immediate consequences can seem more threatening than those that appear far off, like heart disease. For these people, the immediate consequences were shame and humiliation.

The professor reasoned that the threat of shame was big enough for each of them to make sure they would lose the 15 pounds. He was right. All but 1 of the 5 participants lost 15 pounds or more. The one participant who failed still lost 12 pounds. She felt she looked great and was very happy.

The participants were on their own as far as diet and exercise. From what I saw both could have used some tweaking. They did get it done though. This brings home a very important point:

If the “why” is big enough then we can always find the “how.”

We all do daily tasks and set goals to achieve what we want in life. Have you ever stepped back and asked yourself the real reason why you are doing what you do daily? What is it all for?

What is the why in your life? Does it even include being healthy?

Having a fitness lifestyle is not just about the exercises you do; it is about how you view exercise and its ramifications on your life that makes the difference.

If you want to be healthy to enjoy your financial success or to spend time with loved ones then now is the time to take steps to improve your health and wellness. If it is important enough to you then you will figure out how.

The first thing you must do is eliminate excuses (too fat, will always be fat, no time). I have had clients say to me I need to lose weight before I can start exercising…are you kidding me? Earl Nightingale gave a similar example when talking about asking the stove for heat before ever giving it wood.

Do you care that you are healthy? If yes, start taking steps to getting your focus right, your fitness script written and your “why” big enough so you can get the results you are looking for.

Take a step back and look how you manage your day. Find 7 to 10 minutes once or twice a day to fit in an exercise routine. That’s it. Mark out time for exercise. If your “why” is big enough you can do this.

Regardless of your busy schedule, your financial success, or your yearning to get to a certain level in your company, where will you be without your health?

Make the decision today to be healthier. Continue your financial dreams as before, just throw in this activity that will not only ward off health problems, but will allow you to enjoy your business successes in the years to come – for you and your family.

When it comes to decisions in life just remember this; there is no wrong direction and there is never a finish line. It is about ongoing processes…enjoy the ride.

Take home points:

• Don’t believe what others have told you about exercise and fitness.

• Develop your own fitness script based on good health information and positive experiences.

• Begin any program focusing on your mindset and getting the “inner self” prepared. How big is your “why?”

• Prioritize: make exercise a must…for you.

• Do some type of exercise everyday. This does not have to be time-consuming to get results.

• Focus on improving how you feel about yourself and your goals for you and your family and how that will affect the world around you.

As far as the Primetime special: I think they just made the participants figure out a big “why” when it came to losing weight. These people had tried many different paths before, but had never been able to lose weight.

They had an immediate reason(8 weeks) or “why” to lose the weight. I think if we throw in a better how, you would have a really good way to reach your fitness goals.

I guess you could always have someone take a picture of you in a tiny bathing suit and threaten to put it on the internet if you do not lose weight in a certain amount of time… whatever works for you. Get creative with it. But, whatever you do, figure out your “why,” then your how will be revealed to you.

As Marcel Proust, the French novelist said-“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”