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September 3, 2014

Should You Play to Your Strengths or Bring Up Your Weaknesses?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to time management, priorities and self-improvement.

Some people say it’s wise to work to improve the ways in which you are not operating optimally in the world. In other words, spending time bringing up your weaknesses is time well spent because you can “fill in your gaps” and get better at being Superwoman. This is not the same as learning a new skill for fun, or reading a book. I’m talking about working painstakingly hard to do things that don’t come easy to you. There’s merit in hard work, right?

On the other hand, another school of thought says that instead of spending time trying to improve those parts of yourself that you simply don’t care about or that are hard for you, work to understand and capitalize on your strengths and don’t worry about your weaknesses. Your strengths are the things you do better than anyone else and heck, why not showcase them and put them to good use?

On which side do you fall?

Here’s my take …

Behold the current state of my refrigerator (sorry, Jade!):

I don’t recommend people do this :-

This is not the ideal way to lose weight or be healthy. Cooking and prepping food, of course, increases the likelihood that one will eat healthy. Besides, like my friend and RD, Dr. Chris Mohr says, “the more you cook, the better you look.” It’s true. Having healthy food ready to roll is ideal.


There’s more to the equation than just what’s “the best” approach. We all know this. Just because we know something doesn’t mean we’ll actually do it. Information doesn’t equal transformation.

There’s that little piece of the puzzle that requires you can actually do that best thing consistently, enjoy doing it on some level, and also make the conscious choice to make it a priority.

I prepped all my food on Sundays every week for 10 years. I was competing and modeling (and more often than not, doing the “on” or “off” dieting thing) and I was a little leaner than I am now.

And though it was effective, it also made me miserable. I hated it. Buying food, prepping food, cooking food, cleaning dishes, worrying about Tupperware, throwing away old gross food that didn’t get eaten in time. Yuck. I am someone who sucked at cooking and cleaning, never fell in love with it and it became more and more of a mental drain and time suck.

So while I agree, prepping all your food on Sunday is “the ideal” approach to healthy lean living, it was also a weakness of mine that I spent A TON of time trying to bring up and FORCE myself to do.

Until about 3 years ago when I decided I didn’t want to do something that I hated anymore. I haven’t extensively prepped food since then and honestly, one outcome (my physique) is not that different and the other outcome (my mental space & time) is completely different.

By doing this, for me, it taught me how to make good choices that are simple and easy, whether that’s protein shakes, quickie omelets, getting take-out salads, grabbing the salad bar at Whole Foods or heading to Chipotle for a burrito bowl. I can end up at freaking McDonalds and trust myself to make the best choice possible because dining out is not taboo or “a special treat” anymore, it’s just now part of my eating strategy and so I simply figured out how to do it in the most healthful way possible. (This lifestyle is not for everyone and certainly if you have kids, you’ll need to plan a little more or if you love to cook, have at it, I envy you! :))

But I wanted to share this insight because it’s actually not even about food prep.

Prep food or don’t. Whatever.

But rather, this is a insight into automating the areas of your life that make you miserable or where you spend the most energy because they are your weaknesses.

Instead of spending a ton of time trying to bring up your weaknesses, could you instead just play to your strengths, spend 90% of your time doing the things you enjoy and find workarounds and automated systems for the things that are hard for you to do (either because you can’t do them consistently or because you don’t like doing them)?

There’s no shame in calling yourself out and admitting that there are just things that you can’t or won’t do.

No one does it all perfectly all the time (and likes it!) so own your humanity and start enjoying your life a little more. It’s perfectly fine.

Me? Cooking and cleaning will never be something I care to get good at. And I’m done forcing it. I’m a thousands time happier when I relax into my authentic self. No pressure, no “shoulds,” no I’m-not-good-enoughs :)

How about you? Lemme know! Ox, Jill

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