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

We are a work in progress. Working to recognize and outgrow limitations, transcend self-limiting beliefs, and reframe dysfunctional thoughts about ourselves, who we think we should be, and who society assumes we are. This doesn't stop as we get older. As a coach, fitness expert, and change agent, I help people harness their strengths and navigate transitions. Whether it is taking charge of your health or getting unstuck to define the next chapter in your life Best Self Coaching is your partner.

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