You know what your biggest asset is but yet most discount it until it’s often too late. You can have the best business concept, strategy, funding, team, and execution, but if you don’t have your health you got nothing. Your competitive drive to succeed in your career leads you to continuously work long hours, not get enough sleep, not take rejuvenating breaks, eat foods that lack the nutritional value needed to allow your body to thrive, maintain a sedentary routine, and rationalize why the most important relationships in your life are “currently” deprioritized. In short, all those things that allow your body and mind to prosper and in return make you more successful than ever thought possible. Until it’s too late.

You, or someone close to you, gets really sick and everything changes. The realization that life is precious and that in a blink of an eye all the things that truly matter could be gone, is a wake-up call too many accept too late. So, I’ve asked myself…why? 

Why would intelligent human beings be so irrational?

My research led me to a Princeton University study researching our brains to better understand the decision-making process between short-term gain vs. long-term goals, with fascinating results. Undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the study showed that decisions involving the possibility of immediate reward (in our case, a successful project, the prospect of promotion, more financial gain, etc.), activated parts of the brain influenced heavily by emotion. However, when choosing an option that brought greater gain in the long-term (in our scenario, sustainable success by valuing a healthy lifestyle), the calculating regions of their brains were more strongly activated than the emotional systems.

“Our emotional brain has a hard time imagining the future, even though our logical brain clearly sees the future consequences of our current actions” said David Laibson, professor of economics at Harvard University. Dopamine related circuits in the brain are cued when more immediate rewards are in sight.

But hold on. As a career driven individual you tend to adopt a logical decision-making process, often priding yourself in leaving feelings and emotions at the door. Well, it certainly appears that your subconscious mind overrides your calculated and rational thinking. Unless you continuously remind yourself of what’s truly important in life, what life would look like if you didn’t have your health, and the amazing gains you can realize when taking proactive steps to thrive, your subconscious mind will override all rational.

With that said let’s rattle off a few statistics that, I suspect, will speak to your rational AND emotional brain.

80% of all chronic diseases are preventable, including diabetes, many cancers, cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and stroke, and arthritis. But yet more than 100 million U.S. adults (~31 percent) are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. Cardiovascular disease, listed as the underlying cause of death, accounts for nearly 801,000 deaths in the US. That’s about 1 of every 3 deaths in the US. And between 2013 – 2015 an estimated 54.4 million US adults (22.7 percent) annually had been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.

Living with these ailments can change your life and career in an instance, taking strain on your stamina and focus needed to succeed, not even considering the immense burden in puts on the people around you. Is it really worth the short-term gain?

Start prioritizing yourself in 2018 and you’ll discover that you’ll get the best of both worlds – health and happiness, and the capacity to be there for all those who need you to live a long life…your company, your friends, you wife, your husband, your kids.