Happy New Year!
It’s a great time to set personal goals.
I will lose 50 pounds.
I will start exercising every day.
I will cut out all processed foods from my family’s diet.
I will… fail… and give up…. and berate myself… and abandon all goals.
This happens because goals like these are too much. Change is more successful in small, doable steps. Take one step and keep doing it until it’s a habit. Then, add on the next step until it’s a habit too. Better yet? Pair each new step with something you are already doing in your routine.
Here’s an example. A while back, I wanted to start taking specific multi-vitamins (I had done my research regarding what to take, now I needed to make it happen). The ones I chose required ingesting a large number of capsules, and I worried about my follow through each day. I needed to approach this goal in an incremental way so I purchased a 7-day pill box and started with one multi-vitamin. I chose a time to take it (right before bed is not ideal, but it’s what works best for me). I built this step into my bedtime routine. First, taking the vitamin, then reading my book. Taking one multi-vitamin was a piece of cake. After a couple of weeks, I added one more. No sweat! Now, I’ve worked up to taking the recommended dose, which is a handful each night, and I do it without even thinking about it. Best news of all? I feel better, especially in terms of having more energy (because again, I did my research both in terms of not only what vitamins to take but how to set myself up for success).
This process of adding in one new step to an already established routine is called habit stacking, and it works. I would love for you to try it so I reached out to the amazingly creative Carol Hinrichs and we worked our magic to make something for you. I hereby present two printables that will help you make your very own sticky notes that are all about self-care. Who doesn’t love a good sticky note? These are extra special because they include both my words to you and Carol’s beautiful lettering!
To start using this first printable, click below to download and follow the directions to make your sticky notes. Then, simply write a reminder to do your one-step toward self-care for that day on the daily note (e.g., write “Take vitamins” on every single one and place the sticky notes in a spot where it will remind you to follow through).
- Print two copies of the printable.
- Put six blank sticky notes on one of the copies using the corners to guide your placement.
- Copy the printable without stickies onto your page that has the stickies.
- Make as many notes as you need. And, have fun!
Prefer another option? Use the Self-Care To Dos as way to schedule self-care activities so that you are doing something that is good for your health and well being each day of the week. Such as, on Monday’s note, write, “Home cooked meal with family.” On Tuesday’s, write, “Haircut.” On Wednesday’s, write, “Walk and talk with a friend.” On Thursday’s, write, “Counseling at 5:00 pm.” On Friday’s write, “Date night.” On the weekend note, write, “Bike ride.”
For this second page of printable sticky notes, you will have even more options to choose from. Download the Self-Care Sticky Notes below. Make your stickies following the same steps listed previously. Next, choose one self-care strategy to focus on (doing all of them at once is not the point here). Keep reading for specific directions.
- My Why: Set a goal to work towards identifying what Simon Sinek (2017) has called your personal why. Do this by collecting stories of powerful experiences, moments, or snip-its of your days (past and present) when you feel filled up, passionate, and might say, “This, right here, is what I’m meant to be doing.” Jot it down on your sticky note. These stories can help you find your why. Eventually, when you pull them together, look for patterns. Talk it over with someone you trust and find your why. From there, you can make decisions more intentionally by asking yourself, “Does this fit with my why or not?” For now, simply begin noticing times in your life when you feel a connection to your purpose and write them down.
- Words of Wisdom: Pick a quote that inspires you, and write it on this sticky note. Notice times each day when you live that quote. Move on to a new quote when you’re ready.
- Notice the Need – Meet the Need: Pick times in your day when you will purposefully do a fully body check-in with yourself so that you can notice any needs that are present. Once you notice a pattern, write down the need and how you will meet it. As a counselor, I started doing this as I walked the relatively quiet halls of the school during class time. I reminded myself to slow down, breathe intentionally, and would do a head to toe scan by asking myself, “What do I notice today? Is that something I’ve noticed before? What’s the pattern?” And then, “What might I need?” The first pattern that jumped out was that I was often thirsty. Now, I meet that need by carrying ice water with lemon oil in it each day.
- Yes/No Goal: Use this sticky note to help you write down a specific goal. What’s one thing you want to say yes to more often to improve your well being and/or personal relationships? What will you say no to in order to make that yes happen? For instance, if I want to say yes to walking my dog each day because it will be good for both of us, then I need to say no to something that currently gets in the way. Depending on your goal, maybe it’s time, maybe it’s money, or maybe it’s other people’s requests of you that get in the way. For me, email gets in the way of me walking my dog. In order to say yes to walking her each weekday, I’m going to say no to checking email when I get home from school.
- #QoftheD: If you know me, you know I love a good Quote of the Day. When you care for youth, there is so much good material, and seriously, it can be the best picker upper on a stressful day. Recently, for example, a kiddo said to me, “I know when we need to use our prefrontal cortex so we can be mindful.” “Tell me more.” “When it’s the night Santa comes, you should use your upstairs brain to make sure there isn’t a fire going in the fireplace. Santa comes in that way!” They’re here all year, every year folks, but they won’t each stay little forever. Write these quotes down on the #QoftheD sticky notes. Savor them, and go back to them when you need a reminder of what matters.
- #ThankYou: Research shows that practices in gratitude are good for our health and well being. Start by regularly writing down something you are thankful for. Maybe your goal is to do this daily. Or, try it weekly. Use this sticky note to help you!
Remember, you are enough. And, you are worthy of being taken care of both in terms of what you do for you and what others do for you too. If your health and well being aren’t big enough motivators to help you improve your self-care practices, then by all means do it for the sake of everybody you care about. You must inhale care for self in order to exhale care for others. Do it for them, better yet, do it for you, but either way, let’s do it!
Reference: Sinek, S., Mead, D., & Docker, P. (2017). Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team. New York, NY: Penguin.