The “Why-Do” List

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Creating a “Why-Do” list is a powerful alternative to the “to-do” list. After all, we often know what we need to do but it doesn’t always result in action. Here are the steps to creating your own “why-do” list:

Step 1: Pick one thing you want to or should be but for whatever the reason, have not. 

Step 2: Refuse to ask yourself age-old, rational, yet highly un-motivating, questions, such as:

  • Why can’t I do this? 
  • What gets in my way of doing this?
  • Why aren’t I more motivated to do this?

Asking the above questions typically leads to rehearsing all excuses we haven’t done something, which can lead to guilt, shame and inaction   

Step 3: Instead, let’s focus on two much more positive and motivating questions that address why you want to do something. Hence, the “Why-Do” list. This will get you to argue in favor of doing it.  

  1. Why might I … (join a gym, quit smoking, change my diet) 
  • Jot down some answers including:
    • The reasons should be timely, compelling and personal.
    • If you can’t come up with anything, then ask yourself what would have to happen to be even a little ready.  Then, focus on why you might want to do that.
  1. Why are these reasons important to me? (The key word being me)
  • The more times you ask yourself this question, the deeper and more personal the reasons get.

As you will see, the answers help you rehearse the positive reasons for doing something.

Instead of telling yourself, as you might have before this exercise, that you have to start walking because your doctor told you to or because your family wants you to you may end up with much more personal and motivating reasons such as…

  • I want to walk in the morning because I always feel better when I do. 
  • I want to walk in the morning because my back feels better the rest of the day. 

Adapted from Dr. Michael Pantalon Instant Influence technique. “These seemingly irrational questions are part of my very successful, scientifically-proven Instant Influence method (based, in part, on Motivational Interviewing), which has been shown to motivate people from the Emergency Room to the Board Room, from patients with addiction and mental illness in the South Bronx, NY to executives and employees of Fortune 100 companies who are resistant to organizational change, as well as, many other individuals from all walks of life. They may even work for you.  Why might you give it a try?”

Michael V. Pantalon, Ph.D. is an award-winning faculty member and psychologist at Yale School of Medicine.

 Elizabeth Schenk, BS, MBA is a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Fitness Expert and Mentor

Author: bestselfcoaching

Balancing work, family, and well-being seem like a never-ending battle. Failed attempts at “miracle” diets and exercise programs “guaranteed to take inches off your waistline” leave so many feeling frustrated and out of control. The diet mentality has us labeling ourselves as either good or bad depending on what we eat. We find ourselves using exercise as punishment for overeating taking the joy out of movement. When we can’t follow the “rules” of the latest diet, we blame ourselves for not succeeded and eventually give up. Wellness coaching provides a better way. Wellness coaching encourages a new level of self-awareness by guiding individuals to discover and utilize their strengths to make positive change, leading to a more fulfilling life. When you connect your goals to your personal, "positive why," and define how your health habits contribute to your day to day quality of life you are more likely to continue with your health habits for the long haul.

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