Plan each week to succeed. Sit down each week and while referring to the goals you set, plan in appointment times to care for yourself. Have a set time you organise your week if you can, and plan at the end of a week or the beginning of the next one.
Treat your time to care for yourself as an important appointment. When you make important appointments with other people, you only cancel them in a dire emergency, then you reschedule. As you plan your week, tell yourself that the appointments to care for yourself will change your life. Keep that important appointment, and don’t let your busy life or others’ lives stop you taking the next small step towards the goal you have set yourself.
Keep your appointment even when you don’t want to. A new behaviour can take weeks to become an automatic habit. At first you might find it quite easy to keep your appointments with yourself, but once the novelty wears off you might find it more difficult to consistently keep walking towards your goals. When the novelty wears off, the real work of creating this new ‘caring for yourself’ habit begins.You might find yourself quite suddenly cancelling an appointment and going grocery shopping, as I did once instead of going to the gym. Watch out for those moments when you find yourself skipping an appointment with yourself, and keep it instead. You will feel so proud of yourself afterwards!
When at first you don’t succeed…
Remember to be your own best friend. Lovingly and patiently forgive yourself when you fail to keep that appointment to care for yourself. I have lovingly forgiven myself each time I avoided the gym, forgot the gym, injured myself and felt too much in pain to go to the gym… until I knew I wasn’t going to give up on myself, and that I had just better turn up.
Be kind but firm to yourself. A loving and wise friend patiently forgives and then problem-solves with you how to make things better when you make a mistake. So learn to respond to yourself as a good friend would when you are upset and disappointed that you didn’t care for yourself as well as you wanted to. Forgive yourself, and then quietly plan the next week a little better, a little differently, or with a little more determination.
Over time you will find that a friendly kindly gentleness towards yourself combined with a steely persistence to keep walking towards your goals means that you will create new, long-lasting caring habits towards yourself. I have personally found that each new habit becomes easier to create, and gives me increased joy and pleasure in my life.
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