You may not have applied for the job, you may not even consciously know you have the job, but you are a manager — you manage your health. We all — like it or not — are managers.
The question is, what type of manager are you?
Are you successful at getting your team (i.e., you) to implement directives and successfully meet deadlines and goals? Are you an inspirational positive manager, a leader that you are inspired to follow? Can you self-talk your way from health contemplation to health action?
Or, are you a critical, shame-based manager that motivates your team into a pit of anxiety and knee-jerk emotional reactivity? Do you manage yourself directly into an ice-cream binge then lean in to the cascade of additional self-sabotaging choices that follows?
The details of your health goals are irrelevant. No matter what your end goal is, you won’t be able to implement any health knowledge without the skills to “manage” wishes into action!
Successfully adopting a healthier lifestyle requires excellent self-management, management based on growth-oriented self-talk, the courage to take personal responsibility, the ability to listen with the intent of learning (versus until you can talk), fine-tuned emotional regulation, the awareness to understand what motivates you, the skill of discernment (i.e., the wisdom to know what is (and what is not) important, and the humility and curiosity to have a growth mindset and learn through failure.
Sure, Scott Miller does not sell this book as a fitness book, but the tenets are applicable — the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle hinges very strongly on the “the ability to self-manage.”
Six Tips (and Three Quotations) to Help You Become an “ACE Manager of Self”
Decide on your “WIGs”
WIGs are “wildly important goals” — goals that must be achieved or no other goals matter!
Think “quality versus quantity” — quality of goals, of ideas, of strategies.
You can do anything but not everything. If you try to do everything you will do a whole bunch of nothing! Stop giving mediocre effort to multiple, less-important goals. Instead, give your finest effort to your WIGs.
A great example from my coaching experience would be the “carrots” debate. Too often clients expend energy debating something of only minor importance — like if they should be allowed cooked carrots because of the slightly higher sugar content — when they are still consuming pastries, fried foods, and refined sugar. The type of carrots you eat is much less critical than how much processed and fried food you consume. Focus on the goals that will make the biggest difference, focus on the “one thing” (or a few things) that will make the most difference — your WIGs. For example, if you eat two baked goods a day or 500 calories every night after dinner, install a “no baked goods during the week” or a “close the kitchen after dinner” rule. Once you have mastered those bigger issues you can think about the carrots.
Another way of saying this is, choose battles that will win the war.
Pinpoint the battles that will actually win your “war” – e.g., pastries over carrots. Unless you eat pounds of carrots twice a day, focus on the pastries. Focus on “wars” you fight daily versus the carrot wars you might fight once a week. Figure out the smallest number of battles necessary to win the war.
Make sure your WIGs align with your personal values. Value family time? Get your family involved with your progress. Feel passionately about the environment? Use your bike or walk as transport to lower your impact.
Not everything can be a YES
Prioritize what you say yes to. Or as Steve says, “Don’t say yes to the yes pit.”
Stop saying yes to actions and goals and people that are not relevant or who disproportionately suck your valuable resources. Money is not the only resource that needs to be allocated. Energy, attention, and time are valuable resources — some would argue the most critical resources since they cannot be regenerated. (Whereas you can usually make more money.)
Prioritize. Learn to say no to things, people, and THOUGHTS that detract from your main goals. Say NO to negative self-talk. Decide what matters and figure out the one or two things that will most dramatically help you get there. Decide what needs to be achieved or nothing else matters. Focus on those goals.
Live by the “from X to Y by when” equation
Note your starting line. Decide on a clear measurable end goal. Create a timeline.
Track your progress.
Communicate your goals so all involved can get excited for you. Tell your family or colleagues so they can encourage you, or get your family and friends involved in a fitness challenge.
Schedule regular “meetings” with yourself to discuss progress, potential roadblocks, tweaks needed, etc. Meetings are crucial. You would never expect a project at work to go off without a hitch if you never communicated with your team. Put your meeting with yourself (even if 5 min) into your schedule. If it is not in there it won’t happen.
Just because something has to get done doesn’t mean you have to do it. Can you order groceries online so you don’t have to spend time shopping and you can use that time for the gym? Can you get your partner to do child drop off a few times per week so you can train in the morning? What about ordering a meal kit delivery service to cut down on food prep time? Or get your kids involved in the cooking. Delegate at work so you can leave on time and work out.
Adopting a healthier lifestyle is as much about what you say no to as what you say yes to.
Focus on your NOT TO DO LIST!
Remember, not every goal can be a priority or nothing is a priority. Every goal can’t be a WIG. Steve would say, “If every goal is a WIG, you are a fraud.”
Align actions with WIGs
This might sound like obvious advice, but a lack of alignment is almost comically common. People have goals, but through lack of awareness or lack of preparation they don’t align their actions to their goals. For example, they have a goal to lose weight but leave their cupboards stocked with unhealthy food, or they want to work out yet they don’t create an environment where workouts are feasible — childcare, a gym membership, boundaries at work, etc.
Take the time to create environments and systems that will allow for the actions that are needed to accomplish your goals.
Ask yourself two questions:
Have I made sure that the resources I need to succeed are readily available?? (Resources include knowledge needed about food prep, diets, workouts, etc; gym memberships; a personal trainer; etc.)
Have I put in place appropriate processes that will generate the actions needed to achieve my goals? (Childcare, support systems at work or home, etc.)
If your answer to either question is no, figure out how to create the resources and systems needed to ensure success.
Ask yourself “am I willing?”
Every goal — every choice — has a price. The question is not “Is this a good goal?” it is “Am I willing to pay the cost of this goal?”
Losing weight has a cost (food you have to abstain from, workouts you need to make time for, etc.). Maybe you are willing to pay the cost of losing 10 lbs, but 20lbs? That might require too drastic a calorie cut or too few of your favourite foods. Only you know what you are willing to pay and the trade-offs you are willing to make.
STOP making goals that require trade-offs you are not prepared to make. Unrealistic goals set you up for failure — continuously “failing” will make you feel shitty. Either decide you will make the necessary trade-offs or change the goal. If 15% body fat is your goal and it requires you to never eat your favourite pie again, you have to decide if that is worth it. Either decide you are okay with zero treats or change your goal. Maybe a goal of 20% body fat is more realistic — you get to look and feel slim but can still indulge a few times a month. Only you know what is “worth it.”
The take-away is, calibrate your vision — your goal — such that it requires you to stretch but is within your reach. What constitutes “realistic yet a stretch” will obviously differ for each individual and will change for each individual throughout their lifetime.
Absent real facts, people make stuff up —Scott Miller
Make your health intentions clear. Don’t want to eat the dessert at a dinner party? Without facts the host might worry you don’t think he or she is a good cook. So, tell the host “I am so sorry. This looks SO good, but I am trying to lose weight.” I bet he or she will “get that” desire.
We judge ourselves by intentions and judge others by what we see. So, state your intent in a polite and considerate way so others can’t misunderstand your intentions.
Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats —Jim Collins
You need the right people on your team. Get your friends and family involved in — or at least enthusiastic about — your progress. Find a way to eliminate — or at least manage — the “food pushers” and negative Nellies. Find fitness and health friends and workout buddies. Surround yourself with as many healthy people as possible. You know what they say: We are the composite of the 5 people we spend the most time with.
To paraphrase and then highjack the Henry Ford quote on reputation not being built on what you say you will do, but what you do, embrace that the state of your health reflects what you do not what you announce you will do.
Consistency is key. Set attainable goals based on what you are willing to do, not what you wish you were willing to do. Have a clear start and end date, and a clear action plan. Make sure you have appropriate resources. Create strategies and environments that set you up for success. ACT don’t just talk.
Not interested in the book but curious about Scott? I love his podcast, On Leadership, and found his interview on RISE podcast with Rachel Hollis totally entertaining. (https://thehollisco.com/blogs/podcasts/rise-podcast-episode-123)