Fitness: Strategies to connect with ‘why’ we do what we do

Tanja Shaw on meditation

After finishing a recent run, I found myself rushing to the Vedder River to do my 11-minute meditation. Meditation is something I have always wanted to start doing consistently but have struggled to make it a habit. Today was day six; I didn’t want to break the streak.

I paused. Rushing to get my meditation in. Does you see something wrong with this picture? The purpose of meditation is to pause. To breathe. To calm the mind. To connect to nature and the universe. To slow down!

We decide to do things (build a business, start meditation, improve our eating, have date night) because we want to feel a certain way (connected, proud, healthier, stronger, etc.). Yet, we often go through life doing the things and checking boxes without pausing to remember why we’re doing it. We end up going through the motions. We flow through life without being intentional. As a result, we miss out on the feeling we’re after. Connecting what you’re doing with why and being more intentional in your life is simple, and it takes no extra time. In fact, your everyday actions and ‘to-dos’ during the day may not change. You will still get groceries, cook dinner, have the work meeting, babysit the grandkids, have date night with your spouse, work out, or read a book, but the experience will change. You will feel more connected, more accomplished, joyful and grateful. You will simply feel more.

Here are a few real life examples: When you work out, are you doing it because you know you should lift weights three times per week, or do you go with the intention to challenge yourself and build a strong, functional body? Do you spend times with your kids after school because that’s simply what you need to do, or do you see it as an opportunity to connect with your child and create memories?

Do you meet your team at work because it’s on your calendar, or do you go in with the intention to understand your team and build relationships?

Will you make dinner tonight because it’s on your list of things you need to do, or will you make dinner with the intention of lovingly nourishing your family?

Do you have regular date nights with your spouse and just show up, or do you ask yourself “how can I make this a special night for him or her, and how can I show up as the lover I want to be?”

The actions might not change. But when you pause during your day and connect what you’re doing with why you’re doing it, you elevate the entire experience

While this mindset shift is simple, it’s not always easy. We get busy. We forget. I get it.

Here are a few strategies to try:

1. Transition triggers: Each time you transition to a new activity (e.g. Transitioning from commute to home, entering a meeting, etc.) pause and set an intention. You might ask “how do I want to show up?” or “who is the best version of me?”

2. Morning visualization: Take a few minutes each morning to review your day. Instead of just looking at your calendar or to-do list, think about how you want to show up during your day. You might ask “who needs me to be at my best?” or “how can I serve today?” or “how can I show appreciation to someone?”

3. Set reminders: Sticky notes and phone alarms are great to remind you to be intentional. You might have a sticky note in your car to remind you to be the mom or dad you want to be when you get home from work. I recommend changing the alarms and notes from time to time so they stay fresh.

I’ll be honest: I had a moment of panic when I remembered that I forgot to write an article. It was one more thing on my ‘list of things to do’. Then I paused. And I remembered why I write articles for the Chilliwack Progress. It’s not something I have to do. It’s something I get to do. I have the opportunity to inspire someone, even one person, one reader, to switch their mindset and live a happier, healthier, more joyful life. And for that, I am thankful.

Tanja Shaw is a Certified High Performance Coach, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, host of the Fit and Vibrant You podcast and founder of Ascend Fitness + Lifestyle. Learn more at

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