Self-Care Circles Are the New Book Clubs
I’ve finally found the secret to practicing self-care and unlocking my goals. The best part, in the words of J.Lo: It don't cost a thing.
For me, it’s my people.
In my personal self-care journey, I’ve made a lot of goals over the years that I haven’t been able to keep for a combination of reasons. Whether it's because of a lack of motivation or burnout, I’m among the 80% of folks who fall short of their goals.
Last year, however, I was determined to shake things up—but I knew that meant I needed someone to hold me accountable. So I called upon two of my friends who also had big goals to form what I'm calling a "self-care circle."
We decided to meet at a local coffee shop to break down what we wanted to get out of the next month, how we were going to do it—and, most importantly, how we were going to support each other.
Studies show that when you write down your goals or share them with others, you’re more likely to achieve them—and that’s exactly what we did.
Together, we broke down key goals in different buckets of our life: finances, health, creative, relationships, and miscellaneous. In each column, we took a few moments to silently brainstorm things we were struggling with and set reasonable goals for ourselves.
Some of my goals included things like cooking my lunch four times a week, cutting my weekly spending in half, and calling my family members around the country more. My friends wrote about Uber-ing less, working out more, and reading more books.
Once we created our brain dump of ideas, we compared notes and borrowed goals from one another. After discussing the "why" and "how" behind each goal, we wrote our official list of priorities for the next month—and most, importantly, how we wanted to keep each other accountable.
Accountability looks like a lot of things for a lot of different people, but research from The American Society of Training and Development shows that committing to a goal with at least one accountability buddy makes you 65% more likely to succeed. That number jumps to 95% more likely to succeed when you include ongoing meetings.
For us, accountability meant meeting monthly—in true book club fashion. For the second meeting, we gathered at my apartment and reviewed what we had discussed at that coffee shop.
I’m not going to lie—it was not a fun time looking back at the goals I had set. While I had done some things, I noticed there were whole areas of my goals I hadn’t touched, despite how doable they seemed.
Talking through it all with my friends helped me realize where I needed to shift my focus and how I was going to prioritize the goals in front of me.
It also helped me realize that I don’t want to show up next month without any progress to share—and that's helped me on a day-to-day basis remember how I want to spend my free time (when I’m not binging Netflix, of course).
If you’re itching to push through your goals with the help of others, here are some things to keep in mind as you form your self-care circle:
Find A Group That Works For You
Meeting with my friends and sharing our goals with each other felt right for me, but if it doesn’t for you—that’s okay! There are so many options available to you if you want to start or join an accountability circle.
For starters: The Daily Discussion feature in the Shine app allows you to chat with other people working on taking care of themselves.
Maybe you’re focused on one goal instead of a variety of them. Finding a group on meetup.com might be an option and can connect you with community members working towards the same dreams you have, too.
Even communities around Instagram hashtags can help you find people with similar values or focuses, too.
Vulnerability = Key
I’m not going to lie, the first conversation we had about our goals felt awkward. I felt comfortable with my friends—they're like sisters to me—but not around areas of my life that I felt needed to work on.
What I found as I eased into the convo: When I let myself be vulnerable, I could get to the root of some of my anxieties and learn how to better tackle the things on my list.
Look Out For Patterns
Over the course of time, you may start to notice patterns. I realized even just after two months that it takes a bit more mental energy than I knew I needed to tackle the financial goals I had—which is why I didn’t get any of my goals done in time for our second meeting.
On the other hand, my creative goals were taking off because, well, I enjoyed them!
Finding joy in the areas that are a lot more taxing can be hard, but allievating it with the things that you do love can help you push through and feel that satisfying rush of crossing something off of your to-do list.
Be Kind to Yourself
When I didn’t meet my goals, my self-care circle reminded me how I should handle my own perceived shortcomings: Like a friend would.
That meant telling my inner-critic to zip it. It also meant embracing the experience as a learning lesson and bouncing back with the support of my squad, cheering me on as I try again.
When you do crush a goal, take a moment to savor it—no matter how small the goal may be! You’re doing the work to help future you, so don’t forget to pat yourself on the back from that and bask in the kudos from your self-care circle, too.
My personal reward for crossing off a new goal? It’s taking myself on a solo date to the movies. In the words of Retta: don’t forget to treat yo' self.
Read next: How I Automated My Self-Care Practice
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