The End Is Always the Beginning

two halves of broken egg shell

two halves of broken egg shell

The idea for this homage to self-care came out of a conversation with Cadi Jordan and Tara Cieko over lunch some time in early September. There we were enjoying lunch, conversation and a little pampering, when we found ourselves wondering how we could take better care of ourselves in general.

The three of us are extremely capable business women, but we noticed we didn’t always look after our own well-being the way we look after others. Business, clients, family. . .all frequently took precedence. Sad, but true and not unique to us as this comes up often for many of my clients.

Of course that got my little grey cells working!

What would it take to commit to self-care for one month?

That’s the question that got me thinking. As a solution-focused coach I’m all about finding ways to move forward rather than focusing on the ‘right’ or perfect solution, and in my experience that often takes getting creative and getting support.

Years ago I did a year-long personal development program with a core belief that anything you want is available through community. And so I began by reaching out to my network of coaches and consultants with a passion for human potential.

And what an extraordinary group of people I’m blessed to know. I was reminded of the saying, “if you can make a dream happen on your own, your dream’s not big enough.”

Improving or honouring your self-care may not seem like a big dream to some, but when you’re struggling in this area of life, feeling more energized and taken care of is HUGE.

But where to start?

I’m not a great fan of the 21-days-to-change-a-habit theory (I’m much more aligned with C.A. Kobu’s 66 day plan) but I thought a month would get the energy moving.

Tomorrow marks the end of the month, but is it really the end?

I started by rating myself in the areas of mind-body-spirit (rating on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being fully satisfied in that area and 1, not so much):

Oct. 3:

  • Mind – 9/10
  • Body – 3/10
  • Spirit – 7/10

Oct. 19:

  • Mind – 9/10
  • Body – 6/10
  • Spirit – 7/10

What may seem a small change for some, was a boost to my motivation!

Oct. 31:

  • Mind – 9/10
  • Body – 7/10
  • Spirit – 9/10

Looking solely at the numbers, it would be easy to start judging and assessing myself and head down that slippery slope of self-sabotage. But instead of obsessing about how I shoulda-woulda-coulda done more, I acknowledged the improvements and celebrated the expansiveness I was beginning to feel. Like my spirit had more room to breathe – a clear reminder of the power of meditation thanks to Sandra Pawula.

It also proved to me that 21 days really is not enough to affect long-term change, but – and this is a very important but – it’s a very good beginning.

Then Farnoosh Brock asked What It Takes to Commit to Optimal Health. Working with her seven tips, I reviewed my month and offer these insights:

1. Want it.

I got real about how much I wanted to feel better. The aches and pains that had become my companions the past few months had taken a toll, and I’d had enough! This year had many challenges, from unexpected loss to health issues; my resources were down and survival kicked in. Truth is, it often takes hitting a wall before we’re willing to commit to a change and that’s what finally happened.

Joy and aliveness had gone missing and I was not ok with that. Time to get honest about what I really wanted.

Over to you: Where have you not been honest with something you really want? Now’s a good time to take a stand for yourself.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho

2. Cultivate a habit.

Farnoosh was right when she said we are creatures of habit, but it’s important to tell which habits are useful and which drag us down, tired old remnants of past choices.

This month I’ve revisited my meditation practice and increased my physical activity. While I’m still not at my goal of 15-30 minutes meditation and 10-20 minutes of activity daily, I am well on my way and already feeling the benefits.

In the past I’ve often been an over-the-top starter (ie: doing too much too soon) and injured myself. This time I’ve focused my attention on just 10 minutes via the 10 Minute Daily Invigorator and it has laid a pretty solid foundation.

Over to you: Notice which new habits have begun to take hold and give yourself a well deserved pat on the back.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

3. Be flexible.

In NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) there’s a presupposition that says,

The person with the most flexibility and variation of behaviour is more able to control the outcome.

In other words, doing more of the same behaviours will get you more of the same results.

Bottomline: If what you’ve been doing isn’t working, do something else.

So what used to work for me no longer works today. Time to choose new activities.

Over to you: Notice where you’ve been rigid in your routines and hard on yourself, and cut it out!

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Anthony Robbins

4. Start small but adapt.

Many of the physical activities I used to do aren’t possible right now. There’s no point in denying that or feeling bad about it. The past is the past and it’s not doing me (or you) any favours now.

So, for now I’m stretching more, walking more and doing my 10 minutes more often than not. It’s a step in the right direction and I’m feeling confident I can continue, and increase as time goes on.

Over to you: Break it down to something you can do today. There’s no right action; there’s only the next action.

“Knowing is not enough we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” – Goethe

5. Do something you love.

I love dancing and I’d pretty much stopped doing it due to joint pain. I’ve missed it more than I can say, but this month I’ve decided to start again. So I turn the music on and even if it’s only one song, I move to it.

And I smile, so big my cheeks hurt. I feel the energy flowing through my body and I feel alive.

Today one song, next month two, and soon enough I’ll be dragging Mark to dance lessons 🙂

Over to you: Stop forcing yourself to do those things you’ve been told are good for you. Do what you love. Start there.

“Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

6. Measure progress.

People are often disempowered by the numbers associated with self-care: weight, measurements, etc. If that’s the case, use different measures. Remember my scaling exercise above?

Create something that works for you and track that. This is your self-care regime and you get to say what it looks like! You’ll still be able to track your progress. Think of measures like energy levels, number of hours of restful sleep, and so on.

Over to you: Start with rating yourself in the three areas: mind, body and spirit. Come up with measures for each area and start tracking!

“Although there is no progress without change, not all change is progress.” – John Wooden

7. Believe you are stronger than you think.

The mind is a powerful thing. It can shut you down with its negative chatter or lift you up with inspiration and joy.

This month’s challenge has reconnected me with gratitude and determination. I’m pretty relentless when I set my mind to something and as I said in #1 I really want this!

Over to you: Face yourself in the mirror and state your intention. If you can’t be honest with the person in the mirror, how can you face anyone else?

“…the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs


My question now is. . .

What will it take to commit to the next 66 days?

C.A. Kobu brilliantly pointed out the importance of having a simple but on-target system and shared her self-care strategies. We were both so inspired by it that we’ve now committed to taking on a 66 day self-care challenge together!

Just imagine how you’ll feel after 66 days of self-care.

  • What might shift in your thinking?
  • What changes will take root in your body?
  • How will your spirit flourish?

We want you to take part in a way that works for you: by reading our posts, sharing your progress and using the #66days hashtag if you’re on Twitter.

If you haven’t already done so, download C.A.’s 66 day workbook so that you’re ready to start the challenge with us on Monday, Oct. 31, 2011!

Be the change. . .in your own life AND in community.

Do you hear, do you listen to me?
Life is calling for you. 
Listen to your soul, listen to your heart, walk, listen to your mind and stop. 
Open the curtains one by one. 
See what has changed. – Rumi