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Published January 28, 2021
Congratulations; you are the CEO of You Inc. The good news is that you are in charge of all the decisions. The bad news is that you are in charge of all the decisions. This means you are on the hook for the failures as well as the successes. Such is the life of a CEO!
Like most CEOs, you must put a strategic plan in place that will create a path to achieving You Inc.’s goal of life satisfaction. The most critical step in your plan is physical well-being because without it, the other parts of your life won’t fully function. As CEO, you must understand how each step in your strategic plan is intertwined with all other facets of your life.
Physical well-being is important because it enables everything else. Research has shown that our physical well-being has an impact on conditions such as anxiety, depression and on our stress tolerance and cognitive agility. Without physical well-being, you cannot have mental well-being, and your relationships, career, and finances can be negatively impacted. You will constantly be sidelined by your health and not be able to be a full participant in your own life. You will be an ineffective CEO.
What is physical well-being?
Physical well-being is much more than good health. It is the direct result of lifestyle choices and our behaviors around sleep, diet, physical activity, hygiene, and relaxation that achieve or derail optimal functioning. Do you wake up full of energy and optimism for the day and feel confident about your ability to handle whatever comes your way? Or are you often distracted by pain, headaches, discomfort, and fatigue? Maybe you struggle to complete tasks because you feel foggy or run out of steam. Physical well-being drives all of that.
It can be tempting to say “that’s just the nature of working long hours” or “I’m not as young as I used to be,” and assume you can’t feel better or perform better or that everyone else feels just the same. But physical well-being can be improved. You can have chronic illness or disability and still have well-being. The decisions and the actions we take affect strength, appearance, hardiness, longevity, resilience, happiness, and your ability to achieve You Inc.’s goal of life satisfaction.
Yes, avoiding illness is important, but sometimes it is out of your control. Genetics and random illness can be real threats to You Inc., but as CEO you still have the power to pivot, take actions to optimize your functioning, and keep moving toward your goals. Paying attention to your physical well-being is like making an investment today in the resources that will help you weather and leverage whatever comes your way--good well-being gives you more assets to tap into. CEOs persevere. They stay nimble.
How do you achieve physical well-being?
Since physical well-being has many components there are limitless ways to improve it. For example:
- Eating well
- Getting enough sleep
- Staying hydrated
- Drinking in moderation
The challenge is getting real about where you are physically and setting realistic goals to get you where you want to be. That is why thinking like a CEO is so helpful. It forces you to look at the big picture and make tough decisions that are not always easy or popular.
Depending on your needs, you can design a plan that may focus solely on one aspect of your life, like increasing physical activity. Or your plan can cover a wide range of initiatives for a more cumulative approach that also includes eating more vegetables, going to bed at the same time each night, and cutting back on alcohol. The bottom line is improving overall physical well-being for the benefit of You Inc.
Be sure to focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. This seems counterintuitive to making health improvements but when we apply our strengths to areas that need development we are more likely to be successful.
For example, are you a champion sleeper? How do you get a good night’s sleep when so many people struggle with it? Was it trial and error? Do you have a set schedule? Do you have good tools like room darkening shades and a mattress topper? How can you apply the same approach to exercise? Can you experiment with different programs, wake up 30 minutes early to work out, and splurge on a new pair of sneakers? Reflect on your successes and find ways to expand them and apply them to new facets of your health.
Be prepared for pressure from your friends and family who aren’t comfortable with your changes. Perhaps it is making them reflect on their own physical well-being or they simply liked the way things were. CEOs have to make hard decisions. Remember, nothing is more important than the success of You Inc.
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8 steps to kick off your physical well-being journey
- Be Accountable. Accept the fact that you—and only you—are responsible for You Inc. No more blaming others for tempting you into eating unhealthy foods, procrastinating on exercise, or indulging in other bad habits. At the end of the day, you are the one making the decisions regarding sleep, diet, relaxation, and exercise.
- Measure. You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been. Are you collecting the right data? Get a physical every year and consider how your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart rate compare to the prior year. Track your exercise so you can build on it. Learn about your family’s medical history. If sleep or diet is an issue, use a tracking app (or a good old notebook) to log your behaviors--what and when are you eating, when are you going to bed? Data collection is critical for better decision making.
- Analyze. Is your data telling you a story? Do you see areas that need immediate attention or perhaps a trend in the right or wrong direction? For example, has your blood pressure improved since you began performing morning affirmations? Can you identify behaviors that need to change or that you might add?
- Research. What tools and technology are available to You Inc. that can improve your overall performance in life? Check out new apps, websites, blogs, and articles to find out what is trending in exercise, diet, relaxation, and lifestyle. The very best CEOs watch the market, look for trends, and aren’t afraid to try new business models when the old ones aren’t working.
- Hire. CEOs hire consultants all the time. Do you need to consult an expert? If your budget allows and there is a need, consider hiring a coach, trainer, or dietician to help you achieve your physical wellness goals.
- Fire. As a CEO, you may need to fire someone who is a bad influence on your journey toward physical wellness. Is there anyone in your life who is draining your energy or creating an obstacle to reaching your wellness goals? Have you hired a consultant that isn’t helping you the way you thought they would? Perhaps it’s time to let them go.
- Create a strategic plan. You have collected and analyzed your data, completed your research, and made the necessary hires, fires, and cutbacks. Now you are ready to create a strategic plan with physical well-being at the core to ensure You Inc. achieves its goal of life satisfaction. It can be helpful to write down short-term and long-term goals, define your metrics for success, and outline how you will attain your goals.
- Implement. Action, action, action. You must actually put your plan into action. Success is in the “doing.”
The unwritten ninth step is the hardest one. Patience. Unfortunately, strategic plans don’t always work right away. They need time. Physical well-being isn’t a goal that is achieved at once. You Inc.’s strategic plan may need tweaking or revamping. It takes grit to go back to step one and reevaluate, but that’s what CEOs do. They persevere. They stay nimble.
BetterUp Fellow Coach, MSOD
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