I'm Not Tired: International CFS/SEID/ME Awareness Day
May 12, 2015
Tomorrow, my sister Michelle and I will embark on a ten-week health overhaul, a candida/digestive health program from www.thewholejourney.com. It add...
April 25, 2015
From this point, I am adding more structure to this blog. On Saturdays, I'll give a general update on Michelle's and my progress with our illnesses a...
Creative Time Management Series
June 7, 2015
Personality-Inspired Habits (New Year's Post, Part Two)
January 18, 2016
Today's all about New Year's resolutions and habit formation. I suppose I could say I waited several weeks after New Year's to write this just so I could put my ideas to to the test and consistently build habits for a few weeks before sharing my inspirational success....but really, that pesky CFS struck again, and the last thing I feel like writing when I'm exhausted and brain-dead during a flare, is a post about productivity.
But, the past few weeks have been very successful and enlightening on the treatment front. My nutrition habits have been more consistent than they have been in many months, and I owe it mostly to the influence of two people: first, Gretchen Rubin, the best-selling author of many self-development books, including Better Than Before and The Happiness Project. While I have not read her books (yet! they're on my ever-growing "list"), I stumbled on her podcast, Happier, several weeks ago. It focuses on working with one's own personality tendency to develop habits that will make one happier. Rubin discusses four key personality "tendencies:" Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. Each tendency responds to external and interal expectations differently. Upholders follow directions without question. If you tell an upholder something needs to be done, he'll usually do it. Questioners, on the other hand, drive upholders crazy, because they need to know WHY they're doing something. Once they've asked enough questions to satisfy their curiosity, they will usually accept whatever needs to be done, regardless of whether it's something an outside person wants them to do, or just a personal habit they themselves would like to change. The third type, Obliger, responds very well to outside expectations but struggles to meet inner expectations. These are the people who thrive with accountability. Finally, if you tell a rebel to do something....you'll make them want to do the opposite.
After researching these tendencies, I realized I've always approached my own self-development ad habit formation as if I were a questioner. I would beat myself up if I didn't meet a goal I set for myself, because I KNOW how to eat healthily, practice efficiently, manage time wisely, etc etc. I would be very hesitant to admit any weakness I had and seek outside accountability. The problem wasn't my lack of self-discipline; it wasn't that I was lazy or a horrible person. The problem was that I was trying to fit into the mold of the wrong personality type. When I took the free Four Tendencies Quiz at gretchenrubin.com, I learned I was actually an obliger...a discovery that didn't make me happy. I've *tried* my whole life NOT to be an obliger, because I've always subconsciously viewed obligers as people pleasers who don't have their priorities straight, let others walk all over them, and have no self-discipline. Having to ask other people for help or accountability is a sign of weakness! Just do the right thing and eat your vegetables anyway! Side note: it's common, yet pointless, for obligers to wish they were wired differently and fight their tendency. So I'm in good company.
About the same time I reluctantly resigned myself to my fate, I read a short and sweet e-book called Say Yes to Success Despite Your Chronic Illness, written by a fellow "spoonie" and Fibro warrior, Kristi Patrice Carter, J.D. I highly recommend it. It covers everything from self-care and nutrition habits to goal-setting to time management . The most powerful take-away for me, though, was the chapter called "Get The Support You Need." At the end, Carter provides a list of resources for practical coaching, accountability networks, and emotional support groups. Realizing I was an obliger as I looked at my list of New Year's resolutions, I consciously changed my thinking from, "I'm smart enough to be disciplined and do it all myself" to "Instead of wasting an inordinant amount of energy and willpower trying to hold myself accountable, I'm going to be intelligent, work with my natural tendency, and find a nutrition coach to help me achieve my goals with the least amount of effort." That changed everything. She's totally whipped me into shape. Because I have to show her my nutrition log and macros everyday, I'm actually staying on top of logging (I'm not a details person and have never succeeded at logging before). And if she tells me one day that I'm not eating enough greens, the next day I'll eat lettuce and spinach with every meal. On my own, it would take me much longer to even tell myself I should start thinking about incorporating more green vegetables.
So, take-aways from today's post:
1. DON'T, pleeeeease DON'T give up on any New Year's Resolutions you made three weeks ago. It's that time of the year where people start losing focus and motivation on the grand goals they made just a few days ago. And then they wait another eleven months before they set the same goals and fizzle out again three weeks later. Stop, assess your your personality tendency. What motivates you and makes it easy to complete a task? In the past, when were you the most on top of your habits and goals? What made it easy then to stick to your goals? Do you need more accountability, like me? And it's worth mentioning that not all obligers respond the same to different types of accountability. For some, just joining a casual clean eating facebook group and seeing inspiring posts in their news feed is enough to keep them connected and motivated to achieve their nutrition goals. Not me. I need a mean coach who will call me out if I start to slip. And it's ok to acknowledge that and go with it, rather than beat myself up for being "weak and lazy." Do whatever you need to accomplish what is most important to you. Instead of making excuses, conquer your goals through innovation.
2. I highly recommend checking it out the following resources:
-Books: Better Than Before, The Happiness Project
*Kristi Patrice Carter, J.D.-
-Say Yes to Success Despite Your Chronic Illness
-an accountability support site for all kinds of personal habit development, with the option of hiring a personal coach skilled in the area you are working on. This is what I've been using. My Paleo coach is Meghan Kennihan; she's fantastic!
Go forth, avoid flares, and be productive, but if you are in a flare, remember my favorite quote from Jonathan Milligan: "Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is rest." And give yourself a pat on the back.