Emerge and Spread Your Wings

Sustainable Self Care

My latest reading material NO SWEAT by Michelle Segar PhD has been providing me rich food for thought. In this book Segar (a researcher into Motivation in the US) talks about “How The Simple Science Of Motivation Can Bring You A Lifetime Of Fitness.”

The content of this book resonated with me from one of the first sentences. “The secret to achieving sustainable, self-perpetual behaviour change lies precisely in understanding how to create goals, motivation, and behaviour that reflect what is most aligned with and meaningful to our sense of self.”

With chapters titled “It’s not about the sweat”, and “Doing what you enjoy is a better motivator for exercising and it works”, Segar counters some of the mountain of health messages we receive that often don’t work for us, and leave us with a sense of failure.

As I prepare for my post graduate paper on Motivation and Behaviour Change next term I’ve been intrigued by the science-based premise that we are much more likely to be motivated towards a meaningful activity (a carrot) than away from a future predicted threat (stick). For instance we are more motivated to prioritise a walk with a good friend into our schedule, versus doing 100 squats and sit-ups daily against the future threat of developing diabetes.

Even more important we are much more likely to maintain a meaningful movement activity in the future, than one we choose based on a fear of what might happen if we don’t.

I’ve been experimenting with this idea myself, in a broader context that just exercise. I’m wondering if it might hold a key to many of us in the helping professions neglecting our own well-being. It seems to make sense that if we can interweave meaningful, regular self care into our work lives we are more likely to successfully sustain our well-being as opposed to the more vague potential consequences of “burn-out”, ill health or patient complaints if we don’t “look after ourselves”.

My current meaningful well-being activity is reconnecting with friends on a family trip back to Cromwell, Central Otago. You might be aware that in 2013 we took our family on an adventure to live in Cromwell for the year. As you read this blog we will be experiencing the dramatic, starkly beautiful, if chilly landscape in the image above. Read about what happened as a result of our last adventure in Cromwell in my very first blog here.