March weather has been known to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. There are plenty of us that have experienced this with our health and wellness behavior. At first, intentions are so strong that regular workouts and being extremely conscientious of meals is the approach. This puts you first and in control (in charge). As time goes by, this approach may lessen to the point of failing to reach and maintain goals. Lion personalities are associated with courage, strength, bravery, and leadership. Lamb personalities are associated with loyalty, empathy, and indecisiveness. A negative connotation even describes lambs as weak. This goes a bit far as all personalities can adapt their strengths to succeed in health and wellness goals. There are five primary personality traits known as the “Big 5.” As we review these traits, and how to take advantage of them in achieving improved health and wellness, you may notice them in yourself and you are likely a mix of more than one.
Openness: The tendency to appreciate new art, ideas, values, feelings, and behaviors. Openness is an excellent trait to have when deciding to improve your health. This trait allows you to open your mind to the idea of changing your behavior. In addition, openness, versus being closed-minded, is important in finding new ways to exercise, trying new healthy foods, etc.
Conscientiousness: The tendency to be careful, on time for appointments, to follow rules, and to be hardworking. This trait is probably the most beneficial to have when maintaining a behavior change. Once you’ve begun making changes, this trait will keep you focused on your daily decisions to stay on track.
Extraversion: The tendency to be talkative, sociable, and to enjoy others; the tendency to have a dominant style. Being sociable and enjoying the limelight can also be used to your advantage. There are plenty of group exercise options (walking/running clubs, group fitness classes, etc.). The social aspect of exercising in a group and sharing your successes can satisfy this trait’s need to be with others and absorb some attention. All the while, you are helping others realize their own goals.
Agreeableness: The tendency to agree and go along with others rather than to assert one’s own opinions and choices. This is a strong trait with people considered a “lamb.” This trait may be thought of as negative, but it depends on perspective. Instead of thinking of agreeableness as a trait that doesn’t allow you to be a leader and take charge, think of it as being less stubborn and hardheaded. Applying this to exercise and diet, you benefit from others’ suggestions that can be valuable and may help you succeed.
Neuroticism: The tendency to frequently experience negative emotions such as anger, worry, and sadness, as well as being interpersonally sensitive. After reading the definition, this trait is obviously one to overcome rather than to use to achieve your goals. We all experience this trait at some level. The key is to draw on motivations to limit the negative emotions. When challenging yourself to start and maintain a healthier lifestyle, you must find your motivation. Answering the reasons (motivations) why you are making changes is a great tool. Write them down, put post-it notes on the fridge, send yourself scheduled reminders on your phone, and find any other way to keep your focus on those reasons. Limit the “can’ts” and highlight the reasons why you want to make better choices.
No matter the weather, we all have our own personality traits that, when combined, make us who we are. When making lifestyle changes to better your health, you don’t have to change who you are. It is not necessary to suddenly become a lion to achieve goals. However, having a better understanding of your own personality may help you draw on your strengths and succeed.