Circle of Life: Identify focus areas for your self-care plan


Starting something new, like a self-care plan, can make us feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to procrastinate and avoid the things that we know we need to do for ourselves because the discomfort has become comfortable, and the unknown requires change. BLEK! Change might as well be a four-letter word. With so many balls to juggle and a never-ending flow of competing demands, who needs change?!

Who needs a change? Anyone that answers YES to any of the following.

  • Does your life look fantastic on paper, but you secretly wish to burn it all to the ground?
  • Does everything work well until something unexpected happens, and then a meltdown is inevitable?
  • Are you motivated to be your best self so that you can love and support others, but you feel like you are falling short?

Maybe for you, it isn’t as dramatic as burning things to the ground, an occasional meltdown, or a feeling of falling short. Perhaps it’s an inner knowingness that something is missing. Whatever the case may be, we deserve more than putting out fires and running on fumes. There is a better way.

Why is assessing first so important?

Before we can get where we want to go, it’s helpful to know where we stand today. I recommend a self-care assessment that allows you to gauge various areas of your life like mental health, emotional health, professional health, physical health, social health, and spiritual health. You’ll see what needs your immediate focus, and you can then determine which self-care activities and self-care practices will best support improvement in your quality of life.

What is The Circle of Life?

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I studied and worked, provided us with a tool called The Circle of Life. *Cue the music from The Lion King because I know you hear it in your head right now.* I’m providing you with this tool and encourage you to use this as your assessment in identifying your immediate focus areas for your self-care plan.

The Circle of Life is so easy to use. Place a dot in each section that represents your current level of satisfaction. If you place the dot close to the outer edge of the wheel, that indicates happiness and a deep level of comfort. If you put the dot more towards the center of the circle, it means that section could use some TLC because you are currently dissatisfied with that aspect of life. Once all of the dots are in place, connect them.

After you have connected all of the dots, what can you observe? Are their opportunities and challenges that you hadn’t yet acknowledged? Which section(s) do you want to tackle first? What immediate thoughts come to mind for increasing your satisfaction in that section?

What’s next?

I hope this tool eliminates the overwhelm and frustration that comes with a new routine. Focus on one or maybe two things for the next 30 days and see what happens. Don’t get caught in the trap of needing to tackle everything at once. That isn’t realistic.

Being human, this is a trap that I have notoriously fallen into myself. Luckily, through my studies, my journey, and my work with my clients, I have created a tool kit and step-by-step plan to make the road to change manageable and even pleasurable. I view a self-care routine as a long term commitment to ourselves that will continue to evolve.

And now a personal anecdote…

Recently, I completed 90 consecutive days of yoga. This process reminded me that the first 2-3 weeks of a new habit are the hardest. I had to choose to practice yoga even when I didn’t want to because that is what commitment to self means. It is sort of like being the adult parent to your inner eight-year-old who is stomping their feet and shouting, “I don’t wanna.”

Something magical begins to happen over time. You wear a groove, and you start to look forward to and even crave that activity. The brain realizes that you feel better when you do XYZ thing, and your self-esteem bumps up a notch each time you choose yourself.

This time next month, I’d encourage you to complete The Circle of Life activity again and note any changes from where things stand today. It might be time to tackle a new section, or you might find that you need some more time to practice the new behaviors that you adopted this go-round.

Finally, share your plan and self-care commitment with a loved one. Invite your friend or partner to join you in completing the Circle of Life activity. You can then work together as accountability partners. Alternatively, consider hiring a coach (like yours truly) that will support you, guide you, and hold you accountable.

Self-care is important, and darling, you are so worth it!

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