In its simplest form, value proposition is the determination of the value something provides with reference to the amount of effort required to get that something. In other words… “how much value will I get for the effort I put into it”. Sometimes the value proposition is a no-brainer; If I spend a million dollars today on something that saves me a million dollars every year then that’s a pretty attractive value proposition. The value (million dollars saved every year) far outweighs the effort (million dollars spent one time).
Where it can get dicey is when the measure of value doesn’t match the measure of effort. For example, If I invest 1 million dollars today I can reduce pollution at my facility by 25%. That 25% reduction of pollution can increase the company reputation, it can keep the company from violating state and federal laws, and maybe it can become a marketing tool to help sell more product. However, It’s pretty hard to put dollar amounts on those things so it’s difficult to determine the value proposition of the project.
So why am I blogging about value proposition you ask? Good question. I think that one of the reasons why people struggle so much with eating right and being healthy is because they don’t understand the value proposition of being healthy. It’s very difficult to see the value you get from a healthy lifestyle for several reasons:
- The value of a healthy lifestyle is hard to measure – How do you measure improved quality of life 10 years from now? How about measuring how much better your life is from having made good decisions because your brain was running on all cylinders? The truth is people struggle with what they can’t measure.
- The value of a healthy lifestyle starts off small and grows exponentially over time – Sure by living a healthy lifestyle you feel good today, but the real value grows exponentially over time. This is very similar to investing for retirement (and people struggle with that as well).
- The value of a healthy lifestyle comes mostly in the forms of avoidance – Avoidance is something people tend to ignore. When you buy something on sale you tell people you saved $25, but that’s not really true. In reality you didn’t save anything, you avoided paying an extra $25. You will avoid costly medical bills when you are older, you will avoid an early death (hopefully), you will avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. Just like the thing you bought on sale, you’ll still have medical bills, but you’ll avoid paying full price.
- The value of a healthy lifestyle only improves the odds; it’s not a guarantee – You can live a healthy lifestyle and still have a heart attack at 30. You can smoke your whole life and never have a single problem with your lung function. Healthy living doesn’t guarantee anything but improved odds. Your chances of having better quality of life when you are older go up if live a healthy lifestyle but it’s not a guarantee.
So if it’s hard to see the value of a healthy lifestyle what can you do? There’s no real answer here, you either value healthy living or you don’t, but here are a couple tips that can help you put that value into perspective:
- Look at others – Take a close look at some of the older people in and around your life. Can you pick out the smokers just by sight? How about the overweight folks, do they look like they enjoy moving around? Sometimes just observing others helps to recognize what you might have to deal with down the road.
- Look at the Dollars – It’s great that we have so much information right at our fingertips, but how often do we use it? Do a couple Google searches on the costs of medical care for older Americans. Did you know that medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcies in the US? Think about it, you can invest 20% of your salary every year to retire early only to later have to use that money to pay for your heart attack because you didn’t value your health
- Go into the future – Try to picture yourself at 60. How many prescriptions will you have? Will you need a cane? A Walker? A mobile cart? How will your quality of life be; will you be in constant pain or will you have total mobility? Will you be able to travel and enjoy life?
- Go back in time and make a decision – This isn’t as effective if you are still fairly young, but for those of you in your mid 30’s or older take a look at yourself right now and then look at who you were 10 years ago. How much has your health declined? What decisions would you have made differently knowing what you now know? Now here’s the kicker… if your health has declined that much in the last 10 years, then what do you suspect will happen in the next 10,20, or 30 if you maintain your lifestyle?
10 years ago I had absolutely no underlying medical issues. I would visit a doctor once every three years and they would tell me that despite my weight and my smoking I was in relatively good health. I could run (albeit not well) and I could hike with kids on my back. I could get on my knees without any pain. I was very strong! I had myself convinced that my health would not be a problem.Fast forward 10 years and life looks a whole lot different. I take medication for blood pressure. I have to wear a CPAP at night due to sleep apnea. If I sit for more than an hour, it takes me about 50 steps when I get up just to get out all the stiffness. I can’t run at all and a 5 mile hike with the kids leaves me sore for days. Though I weigh the same as I did 10 years ago, my clothes sizes have gone up because I’ve lost a lot of muscle and replaced it with fat. I shudder at the thought of what I’ll be like 10 years from now.
Though you can never undo the past, it’s never too late to value your health. If you can understand the value proposition of a healthy lifestyle then you will be motivated to make the changes needed to secure that value. It’s not easy, but it can be done and I’m sure if your future self could go back in time, they would thank you for valuing your health.Stay Strong!