Vital to our professional performance as a campaign cycle gears up is the ongoing commitment to our own self-care.
Self-care, also referred to as wellness, well-being and balance, is built through emotional, mental and physical breaks from the daily demands of campaign life. As challenging as it may be to accept, we are human beings, not machines, who need to pause regularly to refuel to stay focused, clear-headed, creative and resilient – especially in these unpredictable, constantly changing times.
Now is the ideal time to create and start a customized self-care campaign plan. Here’s why: Each day, our brains generate roughly 1 percent new neurons. When we take new, repetitious actions, our neurons create new formations called neuropathways, quite literally rewiring our brains.
Ever heard that it takes three months to engrain a new habit? Well, 1 percent new neurons times three months equals roughly 100 percent. We want to begin creating these new pathways when stress is lower so these practices are automatic when the going gets tough and we need them most. With the 2018 cycle just around the bend, there’s no time like the present to ready your mind, body and purpose for the year ahead.
Before we get into the tactical “how tos,” let’s out the excuses. What line do you tell yourself that gets in your way of honoring your own health? Is it, “but I don’t have time,” or “I’ll take care of that later,” or “I don’t want to be selfish when I have this much work…”
Let’s be clear: there’s a big difference between self-care — practices that replenish and revitalize health, thus positively impacting our performance and those around us — and being selfish, and motivated by your own advantage. To be as effective as possible (and, importantly, have fun while rocking and rolling), I’m walking you through three super easy steps to create a meaningful, achievable personal health campaign plan:
First, decipher your baseline needs. What do you need to perform at your best and feel totally excellent? List your top five. Why is each important for your performance and well-being? What’s at stake if this need is compromised? Think broadly here, incorporating your mental health (like meditation), your physical health (like getting enough water and sleep) and your emotional health (like time with loved ones). Write out a statement for each like so:
“I need … “
“This is important because …”
We need to anchor in the “why” so it’s motivational. Here’s an example: “I need to exercise. This is important because it clears my mind, is the space where I think big and increases my confidence.”
Now you go.
Next, define one specific, meaningful and achievable action you commit to take to meet each need. What will be different when you take this action? Complete the sentences:
“I commit to [insert action] [insert frequency] times a week.”
“Each time I [insert action], I will be [insert positive affect].”
Rolling with my earlier example: “I commit to exercising five times a week. Each time I exercise, I will be calmer, more focused and feel like the creative bad-ass I am.” (Need more examples? Toggle over to my past C&E articles on how to create a meditation practice, bust campaign stress, to stay focused and neuroscience-based health tips.)
You know your needs. You have accompanying micro-actions to take. Finally, find an action partner. We are more likely to follow through when we have accountability. Create a feedback loop that works for you both, like texting every morning or five minute spot-check calls each night. Campaign life can feel isolating and it need not be. Champion one another. Challenge one another. Work that emoji high five.
Campaign excellence, enthusiasm and endurance begin with the baseline work caring for ourselves so we can care for others. Go big. Be strong. Rock you.
Frieda K. Edgette is a former government affairs specialist and operative turned certified executive coach, civic-minded organizational strategist and neuropolitics adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter at @FKEdgette