So, I’ve joined the gym.

My last three years have seen a baby and a business, with plenty of hard work and fulfilment – perhaps a little too much on the “fulfilment” side, as the waistband gets noticeably tighter.

The time had come to bite the bullet, make the commitment and dust off the gym gear. Already, in the space of 10 days, I feel better.

I listened to Dr Libby Weaver speak at an event last weekend and, in light of my recent exercise revival, what she said resonated with me: when it comes to our health, we are not motivated by the knowledge that eating the right foods and moving regularly will help prevent cancer and reduce our risk of heart disease. Though we all know this to be true, that ‘big picture’ stuff just doesn’t cross our minds when we reach for that glass of wine or piece of cake. Rather, what motivates us are the immediate effects of our decisions. If I eat a great breakfast, I am so much more productive in the morning. If I go for a walk after lunch my head is clear for the afternoon’s problem solving. If I get to bed early I wake refreshed and ready to repeat the cycle because, wow, how great did that feel yesterday.

Listening to this from Dr Libby, I couldn’t help but apply it to business and work too. What gets us up every day and off to do what we do? Is it the thought that, if I just keep doing this for the next 30-odd years, I can retire and access my superannuation? Is it the thought that, if I keep slogging away I might one day get noticed and promoted to partner, or senior management (only to continue to slog away to maintain my position)? Is it the thought of the pay packet that gets me from week to week?

If these are your answers, I can’t help but feel a bit of a pang for what you might be missing every day. For me, the real reward from what I do is in the every day stuff: the people I work with, the challenges I face, the triumphs – small and large, the lessons learned, the difference I have the opportunity to make. These are the things that motivate me, and it’s easy to stay motivated when I’m surrounded by these things every day.

If all you can see is the big picture and the long hard road to get there, maybe it’s time to shift your focus. Maybe ‘joining the gym’ is a metaphor for ‘showing up’, each day. For your life. To work on the small things that, without you even realising it, turn into big, important things. Like great health, lasting happiness and absolute fulfilment. With pants that actually fit.

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