Keeping health on the front burner
Out of sight, out of mind.
Makes sense, right?
If we don’t see it, we don’t think about it.
Conversely, what is in our field of vision (also true of other sensory inputs) tends to influence our thinking and, ultimately, what we do.
If we appreciate the significance of this reality, it means there are things we can do to help stay focused on the behaviors we know will lead to reduced risk of disease, better biometric numbers, abundant personal energy, a higher quality of life and more.
The challenge is to make sure our high priority items remain within our sights more of the time. When we do, we improve the likelihood we will make progress on them.
This is no easy task because we are continually bombarded by external stimuli which have the effect of distracting us from the path we want to be on.
Just about everyone I know (self-included) has some degree of attention deficit because of the over-abundance of distractions in an increasingly digital age.
Being human, our attention is usually drawn to whatever is most prominent in our sensory field.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take a superhuman to stay focused. It just takes a wise human to know how best to manage the inputs.
So how might we choreograph our life so that the important stuff stays on our radar and is more likely to get our attention?
One strategy my clients find helpful is designing their own advertising campaign, as they come up with creative ways to promote healthy behaviors in their living and working spaces.
The thinking is that with the right kind of messaging, in the right places, we can do what corporate America is so good at doing, which is influencing our behavior.
In this case, though, we’re the ones controlling the messages. All of them meant to reinforce our desire to live healthier.
Whether our goal is to meditate first thing in the morning, get into a daily walking routine, eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise more often, practice deep breathing, or add other health enhancing activities to our repertoire – there are a few ‘life hacks’ which can help.
For starters, make sure it’s on the calendar. Items which are well defined and on our schedule are more likely to get done than things which are merely on our mental wish list.
Plugging yoga into our calendar on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 is way better than simply telling ourselves that we are going to do yoga sometime in the coming week. Specificity is more likely to lead to follow through than some vague intention.
As the designer of our own ad campaign, the options available to us are unlimited. This is the time and place to be wildly creative with the use of props, notes and images which will have the effect of generating a desired behavior.
If you were making a TV commercial with yourself as the target audience, what would it look like?
For people really serious about getting healthier and ready to move beyond the ‘thinking about it’ stage to the ‘action’ stage, a few simple ideas would be:
- Putting ripe fruit in a bowl on a table or countertop where you can’t miss it. Healthy food is more likely to call out to us if we put it in a prominent location.
- The notion of smart product placement also applies to our vegetables. If they’re hidden in a drawer or tucked in the back of the fridge, it’s easy to forget them. Ditto for the pantry. Keep nutritious foods in the front row.
- Strategically placing our yoga mat or jump rope or hand weights or walking sneakers in a high traffic area where we’re most likely to see them and be reminded that working out is on our agenda today.
- Using our computer screens and bathroom mirrors and white boards and refrigerators and walls as prime real estate for smart and healthy messaging to ourselves.
What messages and imagery might you have on your personal billboard?
Remember, the object here is to keep the healthy stuff in the forefront of our consciousness.
While there is no guarantee that it will result in healthier behaviors, it represents our best chance for being truly proactive, as we control more of the external cues.
Let’s use every resource we can to keep our health on the front burner.