“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain

I’ve got an experiment I’d like to have you test for yourself. I’d like you to ask ten people this question; “Do you believe regular physical activity and exercise is good for your health and fitness?” …then wait a moment for their response. If you were to guess the results of your experiment, how many of the ten do you think would answer, “yes”?

    • – 5 out of 10


    • – 6 out of 10


    • – 7 out of 10


    • – 10 out of 10


Well, if you guessed 10 out of 10, you would be correct. We all know moving more and sitting less is good for us, don’t we? The challenge is, most of us just can’t seem to find the time to be active on a regular basis. In fact, national statistics indicate 70% of Americans are not exercising enough just to maintain their present health status. So, “knowing” exercise is good for our health, our weight, our fitness isn’t enough…. What is?

The latest behavioral research indicates finding “why” you want to move, uncovering your reason, your deeper meaning and purpose behind your activity, is the most powerful motivator to help you get fit and stay fit. According to Dr. Paul Wong, psychologist, author and the founder of “Meaning Therapy”, has discovered human beings derive meaning and purpose for life (and exercise for that matter) from 8 primary sources:

1. Achievement
2. Acceptance
3. Transcendence
4. Intimacy
5. Relationship
6. Faith/Religion
7. Fairness and justice
8. Positive emotions

How about you?  What moves you?  What inspires you?  What propels you?  What encourages you to move more and sit less?

If I were to ask you “why” you should consider sitting less, moving more and exercising on regular basis, what would be your answer? You may state, “I want to improve my cholesterol.” Or” I want to lower my blood pressure.” Or I want to look and feel better by decreasing or maintaining my weight.” Or “I want to live a long healthy life.” While these are all reasonable objectives and common answers, I want to encourage you not to stop there. Dig a bit deeper, ask yourself the question, “why?” why do I want to be healthier, stronger, thinner or even live longer? What’s your reason? What’s your deeper “Why”?

Finding your “Kavanah”

I ran across a very interesting word on the power of purpose. The word is Hebrew in origin and is rich in history and tradition and has amazing practical implications for any aspect of life, including our fitness.

The word is, “Kavanah” and its historical roots derive from the Jewish teaching tradition of prayer, meditation and learning. The definition of “Kavanah” is; “intention or direction of the heart” and is the mindset needed by students to gain the greatest understanding. I was fascinated with this word and practice and began to study more. What I discovered was, for centuries, Rabbis have taught their pupils the practice of “Kavanah” – instructing them to come to their daily prayer, meditation and or teaching with undivided attention, expectation and focus.

But something I also learned was students of this ancient practice are instructed to come to their lessons with not just their “mind but also their heart” and with extreme intention, expectation and purpose. In so doing, each student would open the “window to their soul” and find the deeper meaning and intended richness of the experience.

Now you may be wondering, what does this have to do with moving more and sitting less? Well, could the practice of “Kavanah” teach us something about the importance of coming to our daily activities, our movement our fitness, and our lives with greater intention or purpose before we begin our day? How can we find our ultimate “Kavanah” when it comes to moving more and sitting less? What if we were to identify our greater “Life Purpose” our “Why” for moving more and sitting less?

As Dr. Paul Wong shared, could our focus on something much bigger than losing weight or improving our blood pressure or health move our heart, mind and spirit even before our feet?

Is this the reason why most of us struggle with our regular physical activity and exercise because we lack the clarity of our purpose, our “Kavanah” and our deepest “why”?  Would the practice of “Kavanah”, identifying and reviewing our “why” daily help us get “on the move”?

We’ve put these questions to the test and asked individuals who have transformed their lives by helping them find their “Kavanah”. Take a look at a few examples of individuals who have identified their “why” and connected it to encouraging themselves to sit less and move more:

    • – “I want to be fit and healthy to reach my 101 life goals.”


    • – “I am a doctor and I want to help as many people as I can-so I know I need to take care of myself!”


    • – “I want to have abounding energy and fitness so I can play with my kids and ultimately my grandkids when I get home from work.”


    • – “I was an orphan growing up and I personally understand the pain and struggle this difficulty brings. Now that I’m older I want to work with orphans in Africa. To do this I know I need to be in very good physical health and fitness. So my “why” is; “Help Orphans in Africa feel loved and accepted”.


    • – “I want to be my kids’ hero.”


    • – “I’m a single mom of two junior high boys. I know it is ultimately up to me to raise and teach my children how to best navigate life. My “why” is; “I will be a happy, strong, fit, resilient and positive influence in the life of my children by leading by example and training them to be the best human beings, husbands, fathers and men they can possibly be.”


    • – “I want to share God’s love with as many people as I can for as long as I can!“


Drafting Your Why

I’d like to share with you five proven strategies (what I like to call “moves”) to help you move that much closer to capturing the essence of what motivates you to be your best and drafting your personal “why”!

    • – Fast Forwarding to Your Future– This week, close your eyes and let’s go to your 90th birthday! Picture yourself with your family and all your friends gathered around a huge birthday cake and 90 flaming candles, where you wait, ready to make a wish. Suddenly, one of your family members grabs the microphone and stands up on a little stage. Everyone looks up to the first speaker and one by one your family and friends begin to talk about you and the life you have lived. What would you want said about you? How would you like them to describe you? Who are the most important people to you at this event? What impact would you like to make in their lives? What “One” thing would you want individuals to remember you for? This week take some time to go to your 90th birthday and write down your responses to the questions provided.


    • – Your One Thing-What Matters Most- Take some time this week to look at a list of values (things that are most important to you). You can go online and search “Value lists” or you can start with the smaller eight items Dr. Wong shared:


1. Achievement
2. Acceptance
3. Transcendence
4. Intimacy
5. Relationship
6. Faith
7. Fairness and justice
8. Positive emotions

Take a look at the above list and identify your top 5. What matters most to you? Then if you had to narrow it down to your top 3 what would they be? Then, ultimately if you had to choose your “One Thing” that matters most to you, what would it be?

3. Do a little more digging: Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Finding your “Why” is very much like searching for buried treasure. It can be very elusive if you don’t have the right map. Throughout the last few weeks we have been creating the right map to help you discover your treasure, your “Why”. Take a moment, pull out a piece of paper and draw 5 circles intersecting one another (much like the Olympic Logo-3 circles on top and 2 circles on the bottom). Next, take a look at the questions below and place a one or two-word answer in each of the designated circles:

      • – Look Behind You: What did you love to do as a child?


      • – Look Beside You: What are your greatest talents and strengths?


      • – Look Above You: What is most important to you?


      • – Look Around You: What makes you angry or sad in the world around you?


      • – Look in Front of You: How do you want to be remembered?


4. Drafting Your Why: Take a look at the words you’ve written down from Move #3, “Do a little More Digging” and begin to piece together your one or two word answers to draft your personal mission or “Why” statement. Don’t edit your writing, just begin to craft the words you’ve selected into one sentence or phrase. Write down anything that comes to your mind using the words you’ve already discovered from the 5 questions. This exercise will help you get closer to crafting your “Why” and also provide you with daily “Kavanah”, intention, focus and direction. William Aruda, the author of Ditch, Dare, Do: 3D Personal Branding for Executives, said,” A personal mission statement (your why) is a critical piece of your brand because it helps you stay focused”

5. Practice Daily “Kavanah”:  This week, take a page from the ancient discipline “Kavanah” by practicing to prepare your heart and mind before you perform any physical activity. For example, read over your current draft of your “Why” statement just before performing an afternoon walk or stretch at your desk. Take note and watch how your motivation soars!