As a former high-level executive, and then management consultant, I know how challenging it is to give all in your job, and take care of yourself at the same time. And even if you watch your nutrition, or go to your soul cycle class twice a week, you still can’t manage to be consistent and make “living healthy” a constant in your life.
With living healthy I mean: watching your nutrition and hydration, getting regular exercise, sleeping well and being able to calm down at the end of the day. Because that’s what it takes to be well, perform well and, look amazing.
The reasons why you consistently fail to succeed at your self-care routines are many-fold, and I hear them almost every time from my clients:
First: time. Sure, you’re busy, but so are other high-profile powerhouses that run multi-billion companies and still are super healthy (think Jessica Alba, Arianna Huffington or Kate Hudson). Next, money. Agreed, it’s expensive to get organic meal plan delivery, or shop exclusively at Whole Foods, but isn’t investing into your food the best investment you can make? Finally: lack of willpower, and that’s, in my opinion, the main reason why some women, don’t succeed at living healthy. But no need to despair: willpower can be trained. And even better: willpower (aka discipline or drive) has everything to do with your personality type. And once you’ve figured that out, it’s literally a piece of (gluten- and sugar-free) cake to apply the right psychological tricks on yourself to kick your willpower back into gear. And make living a healthy life effortless.
But how does your personality type influence your success at living healthy? (Note: there are MANY ways to distinguish people according to their personality type. I’ve chosen the three below as the most helpful when looking at creating a healthy life.)
1. How do you respond to commitments or expectations?
You’ll most likely find yourself at one end of a scale of how you feel about commitments, either to yourself or to others. Ask yourself this: Do they limit, or liberate you? My husband, for example, hates to wake up to an agenda full of meetings, which he feels force him on somebody else’s agenda, and keep him from doing what he’s passionate about. I, on the other hand, feel invigorated by a well-outlined agenda and to-do for the day, as I feel that they enable me to progress with what’s important to me. And none of these sentiments is right or wrong, they’re just different.
Broadly, to create healthy habits and you fall into the first category, it’s a good idea to schedule as much as you can: lunches away from your desk, reminders to have water every 30 minutes, your gym class... If you’re in the latter category, you’ll have more success in reminding yourself every day of WHY you want to take care of yourself, for example with post-its on your bathroom mirror, or a screensaver with inspirational quotes, or by using an app that sends you motivational messages.
2. Do you get your energy from within you, or from others?
People, who feel more energized when they’re doing things with others, are called extrovert, whereas people, who feel they recharge best when they’re by themselves, are introverts. Again, these are two extreme ends of a scale, but everyone has a tendency.
If you’re more of an extrovert, make a point of scheduling healthy activities with others, or finding “accountability partners”, who add a social aspect. Just note that though accountability partners work well for people who like commitments, they might not for people who feel limited by expectations. With others, you might try out new healthy restaurants, take food preparation class, or work out together. Introverts might prefer individualistic activities like yoga or swimming, and be trying out new recipes at home.
3. Do you love familiar routines or novelty?
Ask yourself this: how easy do you get bored? Do you enjoy your Saturday nights watching Netflix with your significant other, or rather go out and check out a new bar? Are you likely to run the same track each time, or like to switch it up?
If familiarity comforts you, you like to commit long-term to a class, or gym, once you’ve found the one you love. Or you happily set up a recurring delivery of your favorite health food items each week, as you’re content with eating more or less the same each day. Or you go to bed and get up at the same time each day. If you’re excited about novelty, however, switch it up – with everything. Get a gym pass that allows you to try a different class each time you go, explore the latest health food restaurants with pals, listen to your body and go to bed when you feel like it (even if it’s 7pm)…
You see, what works for others, might not work for you. And that’s normal because you’re not like others. To know what serves us best, we must know how we “tick”. And once we know that, we can consciously trick ourselves into doing the right things every day. It takes around 21 days to change a habit and then you no longer need to think about it, but do it habitually. And that’s your sure way to success at putting self-care first and living healthy for life.
Find out your personality type by taking the Health Potential Archetype quiz here