Creating a Leading Well Self-Care Plan

Changing your mindset about self-care is one thing; creating and implementing a plan is another. Self-care goes far beyond massages and meditation; you must practice and master it over time. As the second part of my two-part series on self-care, I will discuss actionable steps you can take to create a self-care plan. If you need a refresher on adjusting your mindset for self-care, read the first blog in this series here

Recognize How You Are Showing Up in the World

As an entrepreneur or leader, it is essential to be acutely aware of how you are showing up in the world. Do you adopt a positive mindset toward problem-solving? Or do you focus on the issues? Are you poised for work but not positioned for rest? Are you tired? Weary? Or on the verge of burnout? Paying attention to how you are showing up in your life is the first step to determining if you need change—especially regarding how you care for yourself. If you are snappy with your staff or impatient with your children, see these as signs that you are not leading well. You must prioritize yourself.  You only have one life to live, and you need to be able to show up to it fully.

Develop Your Self-Care “Why”

Self-care is an inside job. Dr. Lakshmin Pooja, the author of Real Self Care, defines self-care as “an ongoing, internal process that guides us toward profound emotional wellness and reimagines how we interact with others.” (p. 67).  This type of change requires self-knowledge, self-compassion, and the courage to make tough decisions about our well-being. Developing a Leading Well Self-care Plan without doing the inner work is akin to listing activities with no purpose or reason for doing those things. 

So, before creating a self-care plan, figure out your “why.”  Realizing this will keep you on track when the days are hard. Contrary to popular belief, self-care is a discipline much like exercise. Perhaps you’ve gotten a medical report that has awakened you to the need to enhance your self-care. Maybe you have experienced the deaths of loved ones from lifestyle diseases, and you want to change your habits. Perhaps you want to be more active and spend time with your children and grandchildren.

Identifying why self-care should be incorporated into your life and leadership is important. You must get in touch with the fundamental reason you want to change and prioritize self-care.

Develop a Wholistic Framework for Self-Care

Structure is important when building any action plan. Self-care is no different. A framework is a structure or template for creating your self-care plan. Because we are whole persons, consisting of spirit, soul, and body, I suggest you use a wholistic self-care framework to develop a plan to enhance your overall well-being.

Here is a basic framework of the components that your self-care plan should include:

The spirit component of your plan can include spiritual practices or habits that help you connect to God, the Spirit, your purpose, a community, or cultural values. These also include beliefs about who you are at the core of your being that form the idea that you are created in the image of God and, therefore, worthy of dignity and respect from others…and yourself. 

The soul component includes our mental and emotional health, particularly as they enhance our relational well-being. Are there books that can help your emotional well-being? Do you need to see a therapist to address why you overwork yourself? Think of things that can help you enhance your emotional well-being and create a plan to address them. 

The body component of the plans includes physical health, vocational well-being, and environmental health. Incorporating some kind of health and wellness into your plan can be as simple as taking a 15-minute walk in the morning, four days a week. 

Incorporate Your Self-Care Habits Into Your Action Plan 

Habits are tendencies, practices, or routines that you do regularly and have become automatic. They are formed by starting small and consistently practicing and reinforcing a behavior. You can develop Leading Well Self-care habits in as little as three weeks. Small changes give huge returns.

Here are some habits to consider:

Develop Your Self-Care Plan…And Follow It

If you fail to plan your self-care and wellness routines, you will indeed plan to fail in your self-care! Commit time to center your care and develop the habits necessary to sustain your well-being. Start small, but start and be consistent. 

Here is a template to get you started:

Identify at least one self-care activity from each of the three dimensions in the above chart.

  • A Spiritual Care Practice that I will start:
    • When will I  start this practice?
    • How frequently will I do this activity?
    • How will I track this activity?
    • What support do I need to be consistent?
  • A Soul-Centered Habit that I will start:
    • When will I  start this practice?
    • How frequently will I do this activity?
    • How will I track this activity?
    • What support do I need to be consistent?
  • A Physical habit that I will start:
    • When will I  start this practice?
    • How frequently will I do this activity?
    • How will I track this activity?
    • What support do I need to be consistent?

Develop Your LW Self-Care Support System.

As you create a self-care plan and adopt new habits to reinforce your wholistic identity and lifestyle, you’ll want to identify like-minded people or groups to connect with. Identifying an accountability partner with similar wellness goals is effective for some people. Others like to join a support group or exercise and nutrition group. Others want to find online communities to connect with people with similar goals. Find your tribe!  

Remember, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. By developing a self-care plan and committing to it, you are investing in your overall well-being, which in turn allows you to lead well and thrive in all aspects of your life. 

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