When the going gets tough – don’t stop.
When I begin a new self-care habit, I often don’t feel like doing it, or I forget to. I know from lots of hard experience that if I don’t plan time during the week to care for myself, I won’t. And even more, if I don’t keep reminding myself that I am making an important weekly appointment with myself, I won’t keep it. Other things will suddenly seem more important and I’ll cancel on myself. All the busyness and urgency of my life will suck up any time I have put aside to look after myself. However, something quite magic happens when you persist with keeping your self-care appointments. It beceomes much easier to find the time and energy and you begin to enjoy the new habit.
Do keep caring for yourself – even when you don’t want to. You will thank yourself afterwards. This last half of 2013 I have found that going to the gym has now become a pleasure. I say that with pleased surprise. For the first two and a half years it was definitely not a pleasure, and for a different reason each week. There were many perfectly reasonable reasons why I shouldn’t go. My body hurt and I was so tired afterwards. I was tired before I went, and often dragged my feet up the stairs to the gym. I injured myself gardening so felt I shouldn’t go. And the most common and honest reason, I just didn’t want to go. It seemed just too much effort for little reward.
However, because I had deeply understood regular gym attendance would change my life radically, and because I began to have little moments when I realised that I was actually getting fitter and stronger and sleeker, I continued to know that the gym was the best way for me to care for myself and change my life for the better. So I persisted. Each week I referred to my goals, and planned time in my diary so I would make that gym appointment, even when I was extremely reluctant to go. Three years later I can go to the gym twice a week with pleasure, I’m back doing yoga, and when I walk and swim with friends, it is a pleasure and not a huge effort. I also injure myself less, recover faster, and have more energy and time for myself, and my friends and family. Fitness was that one important thing for me to change so my life became much more productive and fun.
What one thing do you want to do to care for yourself? How are you going to make that a weekly habit?
We have to care for ourselves – no-one else. I want to refer you to Dr Stephen Covey’s ideas. He says most people live in the middle of concerns and problems which they believe they can’t change. He suggests we are happier and more effective in our lives when we concentrate on changing what we can control. Over time, quite magically really, our circle of concern can become our circle of influence. Increasing our circle of influence mean we can continue to make the changes that we deeply want in our lives and those of our families. Stephen wrote some life-changing books. You might have heard of ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’. Stephen shows you how changing your focus to what is within your control to change, rather than blaming life, others, circumstances, or disability for your concerns and problems enables you to take control of your life rather than be a victim of it.
I suggest that you seriously ask yourself, “What one thing can I do that will change my life for the better?” and then plan to succeed in caring for yourself. When you discover a new habit you can develop which will change your life and your family’s for the better, then you plan to succeed. Plan each week to do that new habit through all the difficult times, all your failures, and all the little glitches, until it is a habit and becomes easy.
Next and last post on planning to care for ourselves will give you ideas on how to plan your week.
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