Please, please, please can we as an industry stop focusing on the ‘what’. Continually we focus on ‘what’ we have to do, rather than the ‘how’ we do it, or even more importantly, ‘why’ we do it.
The ‘what’ is the action or the output. The ‘how’ is the enabler or the facilitator that allows the ‘what’ to consistently occur. The ‘why’ is the reason, the emotion the passion and the behavior driver. The ‘why’ is the reason we maintain a behavior, time and time again.
Ask just about anyone ‘what’ they could do to be healthier and most will tell you they need to eat more fruit and vegetables and exercise more.
This is why we do not need educating on what we need to do, we need help learning how we can introduce more fruit and vegetables into our diets and how we can create more time to be more active.
First though we need help truly understanding why we should eat more fruit and vegetables and why we should be more active. Telling us that if we don’t do these things, means we’ll die young, get diabetes, or our risk of heart disease and cancers increase is not motivational! If it was we’d be much healthier as a society.
As humans we are reactive, we believe it will never happen to us, or at least it won’t happen for years yet, therefore long-term scare tactics don’t work.
If we truly want to influence people, we need to focus on the short-term benefits, keeping our messaging exclusively in the positive.
So, to truly influence people’s behaviour, to improve their wellness, we need to help educate them on why they should change.
Our messaging should be about the emotions we are likely to feel, the sense of achievement that engulfs us when we finish an activity, the feeling of pride that swells inside us, when we accomplish something new or the enjoyment that we experience when we are with others moving toward a common goal.
What we convey should focus on the immediate physiological and cognitive benefits, like how moving gives us energy, reduces our stress levels, improves our thought processes and makes us feel happier.
This as a message is so incredibly powerful as we can instantly prove what we say, just get someone moving and they will instantly feel better, put them in a group and add in an element of fun or light hearted competition and people will not simply understand the message, they will feel it and we never forget how something makes us feel.
Finally, once we’ve educated people on why they should engage in behaviours that will either maintain or improve their wellness, we can then focus on helping them understand how they can achieve this…
So, how might we go about this? Well, a coping strategy ideally will be a personalized one, however, there is one simple rule to follow.
To be able to do the ‘what’ we have to first make time. The ‘how’ is simply to create diary space. Whether this is to create the opportunity to make a healthy meal, go for a walk or meet your trainer, we have to make the time.
Simple right? Well, not so much. We cram our lives full of commitments, both social and work related and there is always tomorrow, ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ or better still ‘I’ll start on Monday’. By the way ALL healthy eating regimes and exercise programmes begin on a Monday, never a Wednesday or Saturday, always a Monday!
The real challenge is people believe they do not have time. We all have busy lives and typically, our time is consumed with behaviours that are detrimental to our wellness, since most are most are sedentary in nature.
So, if we do not have time and we may not genuinely have the ability to create time, we must remove our sedentary behaviours and replace them with active ones. This is ‘how’ we facilitate our ‘what’. It’s the same when it comes to nutrition, we need to create time to purchase and consume healthier food options.
To be successful though we must start small, find how we can do something and do it consistently, day after day, week after week, month after month until both the how and the what (the action) are ingrained behaviors.
We all know ‘what’ it is we need to do, however, it is when we understand the ‘why’ and facilitate the ‘how’ we can and will want to maintain the action, the ‘what’.
To find out more about our thoughts and views on this subject watch our 3 -part vlog series below:
Are we educating people on wellness correctly – Part one https://vimeo.com/324299693
Are we educating people on wellness correctly – Part two https://vimeo.com/324303465
Are we educating people on wellness correctly – Part three https://vimeo.com/324301584