2021 Monthly Wellness pReview - January/February
How I Got Here
Whoever said "if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail" had a serious point.
I endured a prolonged period of what I can only think to describe as functional depression -- a time when I was moving through life in a constant state of emotional survival and feeling like my life's calling was to be a doormat. I felt stuck. I was in a mental space where I didn't even know what I wanted out of life. Flexibility and options didn't seem like they were available to me, but that's when I woke up.
Once upon a time, I was an ambitious person. Where did the old me go?
I took the first step and made room on my calendar and in my budget for counseling. I intentionally sought out a mental health professional who looked like me (was a Black woman) and had similar experiences (had been a single mother working outside of the home). After months and months of conversation, it became apparent that I lost myself. I really had become a doormat. Since I didn't have boundaries and since I didn't reserve and protect time for myself to recharge, my spirit was being suffocated by other people's expectations.
I decided "no more."
In the words of Audre Lorde:
That is how I learned that if I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.
I decided that I was going to explore "me" again. I needed to dig into my emotions, interests and desires. My counselor was there to ensure that I did so gently. The answer wasn’t to beat myself up. However, once you've climbed out of emotional darkness, it's hard not to fight to never go back...
In order to stay committed, I decided to leverage a concept of wellness that provided a comprehsive framework for exploration.
The Nine Dimensions of Wellness was the perfect fit. It captures the foundations of wellness, which are spiritual, emotional and physical health, but it goes much further. Your career and your finances matter. How you stretch and grow both intellectually and creatively are important. The health of your social networks and engagement in your community are rubics for well-being. Finally, nature and how you relate to it (environmental wellness) mirror the level of respect you have for yourself.
The Nine Dimensions of Wellness serves a holistic lens for self-care, but without a plan, there is room for lack of accountability.
The Reasons I Set Personal Wellness Goals & Encourage You to Do the Same
I designed The Daily Manifesto as a tool for those who, like me, need a means of staying focused and motivated on their wellness journeys.
With The Daily Manifesto you are able to put pen to paper and really hash out your wellness goals. It's for those who truly want to deploy the practice of self-care on a regular (e.g. daily) basis.
It includes annual and monthly goal setting worksheets as well as monthly reflection pages.
The daily pages make that SMART goals model (which maintains that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) easier to fold into everyday life.
The hourly agenda-planner is surrounded by built-in wellness reminders. Hydration, mindful movement, spiritual wellness and more are right there for your daily consideration.
Collectively, the pages serve as a declaration of your personal commitments and aims; that is, a manifesto.
This concept of wellness planning isn't meant to be overwhelming. It is simply meant to give you a space for honoring your self-care intentions and tracking your progress alongside your daily to-dos and obligations.
Before, I wasn't prioritizing myself as much as I was prioritizing everyone and everything else, but The Daily Manifesto changed this entirely.
A Note on Balance
When it comes to wellness, we don't want stress out and chase the fantasy of perfection, BUT we do want results.
Here's one quote that sums it up:
Know that what gets measured, gets improved. If you don’t set specific targets and milestones, how are things going to improve? There is literally nothing to work toward, and even though you may be working hard, your hard work may not translate into anything. As the popular saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” When you set goals, you are aiming for the moon. Your goals propel you to take more action that you would have otherwise. citation
My 2021 Wellness Planning Process
This is the first time I have shared my wellness goals in detail in public. I am viewing this as an exercise in vulnerability. I hope that my transparency inspires you to either get started or keep going with wellness planning.
The first thing I do each year is create a vision board. You can check out part of my process here, but it's very simple and fun!
I collect magazines then cut out words and pictures that bring me joy and inspiration.
This year, the word "PERSIST" captured my attention.
In 2021, I want to persist in self-care... persist in sharing Mahogany Manifesto with the world... persist in growing as a leader... persist in doing what brings me joy and limiting what does not.
The past helps inform the present, so I started by thinking back on all of the progress I made, where I still had room for improvement and what intentions made sense for the next season of my life.
In a few of the categories I got more specific, but if I switch it up one month, I don't beat myself up. I embrace it as a mere shift in interests. "Change is the only constant."
I posted a New Year Self-Care Countdown series on the blog. Check it out! There is a post for each category and challenge activties at the end of each one.
Here is what I wrote out for 2021:
First, I thought about how I could implement aspects of my annual goals in January.
For example, in order to help myself maintain an attitude of gratitude, I chose to write a gratitude list each day.
For social wellness, I chose to take a step toward getting the first Black Lives Matter Committee meeting of 2021 on my church's schedule. This relates to the Kwanzaa principles of Umoja (Unity) and Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility). (Note: The seven principles of Kwanzaa are called the Nguzo Saba.) During that meeting, we discussed our plans for the year -- landing on food justice, education outreach and supporting senoir citizens as our guiding areas of focus.
Here are my January 2021 goals in full:
The "X" and "✓" symbols indicate which ones I knocked out of the park and which ones I didn't fulfill entirely. The "X" marks don't make me feel like a failure. They just indicate areas that I have to think through as I move forward. Besides, look at all of those checks!
With physical wellness being so critical, it is important to pause for a second there.
This was a gloomy month outside. I'm not a snow lover, so it's a wonder why I stay in Ohio at all. I noticed that my motivation for exercise was super low. I thrive in sunshine and I take walks as soon as it gets mildly warm outdoors. I found myself wishing for things that were outside of my control -- like warmth and a beach view.
When my energy was down, I dug into my spiritual wellness goal to bring me up. Gratitude lists helped me find joy in the little things. I thanked God for memories and for having already had a number of beach days in my lifetime.
Even though I didn't exrcise as much as I should have, I did stay hydrated and I monitored my intake of sugary foods and beverages. That was a reason to celebrate.
Entering the new month, I decided to carry forward some goals and switch up others.
Contnuing with my physical wellness reflections, I adjusted the number I times I planned to workout so that I didn't get overwhelmed. Rather than daily movement, now I am aiming for about every other day. I will track this on the daily agenda-planner sheets.
I will post outcomes and a March preview at the top of next month.
Get To It!
Don't just follow along -- get your own copy of The Daily Manifesto. There are several options, but all of the versions are undated. Start anytime!