We need a balance of nutrition, movement, healthy relationships, sleep, and stress management in order to live a vibrant life. It is the consistency of these daily habits that will ultimately determine our quality of health. But life happens, and it is sometimes hard for us to continually uphold all of these habits.
Regardless of how you feel about New Year’s Resolutions I do believe that this time of year provides an opportunity to not only reflect on our health but also to give it a kick start.
New Year’s Resolutions always seem to be a controversial topic. Some people set them religiously every year, where other people think they are a complete waste of time.
After 15 years of helping people achieve their health goals, you start to pick up trends in behavioural patterns. December is a hard month for most people to manage their daily habits. January on the other hand, is a month that is usually met with renewed motivation to get back on track.
More than making a resolution is the ability to find a plan and be able to stick to it. Like Antoine de Saint Exupery said “ a goal without a plan is just a wish.” So many times I see people set lofty resolutions that are met a few weeks later with failure and disappointment.
Part of coming up with a great plan, is understanding what motivates you and also what supports you need in place to be able to stay committed. On my last vacation, I read the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. I found it to be a great tool in helping to understand patients behavioural patterns (okay and my own too!). The more tools we have to understanding our motivators and why we do things, the easier time we will have coming up with a plan that actually works!
To be clear, there are no right or wrong tendencies. All of the tendencies have their strengths and weaknesses and when we can understand what we are, it is easier to put resources and supports in place to help up achieve our goals.
I am going to summarize the three tendencies that I most often see in my office.
- Upholder – “the rule follower”
This person tends to be a self motivator and self starter. They are conscientious and reliable and eager to meet expectations. They also tend to be defensive rigid, and have a hard time when plans or schedules change. They often become anxious about obeying rules
From a patient standpoint, upholders tend to make “easy” patients as they follow instructions explicitly . These clients however do tend to be the ones that become quite rigid and have a tough time with flexibility.
Advice – Upholders need to find a plan that is not too rigid and structured. I find that they are the ones that can do an intense plan for 30days, but then will beat themselves up if they have one blip. I find they need to be encouraged to get on and off lifestyle plans and that this type of moderation is okay.
- Questionner “prove it”
This person tends to need information, logic and efficiency. They want to gather their own data, and will only do something once they have enough information and it makes sense to them.
From a patient standpoint, if you are a questionner it is important that you have all of your questions answered before starting a plan. Once they questionner is convinced they have little trouble meeting health expectations. However if they are not convinced or doubt the plan they won’t do it.
Advice – If you tend to be a questionner, make sure that you are on a plan or working with health professionals that help you gather enough information for you to feel comfortable with what you are doing. I often will tend to run tests on these patients before having them commit to anything so they can have the proof they need to stick with it.
- Obliger “Say yes to Less”
These are the givers. They will do everything for everyone else, and less for themselves. One example that Gretchen gives is a friend of hers that never missed a practice when she ran on the high school track team, but now can’t get herself to run around the block. She will do more for others, and not disappointing her team by missing a practice than she will do for herself.
These patients are team players, responsible and willing to go the extra mile. They also will be susceptible to burnout and overwork. They have trouble saying no or imposing limits.
From a patient standpoint these clients will benefit the most from accountability. In fact it is almost essential for them to be successful.
Advice – If you are a obliger it is important for you to set up someone to be accountable to. This could be a weight loss group, a personal trainer, nutritionist, your doctor or health care provider. You will be much more successful hiring someone to help you, than you will buying another gym membership, recipe book or piece of exercise equipment.
Attached is a quiz for you to take to get a deeper understanding on which tendency you tend to fall into
If you want to delve deeper into this information go to gretchenrubin.com.