Self CARE: 4 Steps to Manifesting Your Desires
This article is excerpted from the introduction to Self CARE: The Simple Steps To Manifesting Your Desires, scheduled for publication in late 2022.
Self CARE™ is a program of self development using behavior adjustments to best support outcomes that manifest your desires. I created the simple four-step program as a capstone project for my certification in personal development coaching, to be easily learned, repeatable, and self-directed. The steps can be applied to any desired changes or personal development.
Whether the stated outcome is breaking a bad habit, establishing consistent routines, creating a healthier lifestyle, or succeeding in work or business, the steps of Self CARE keep you on track for achieving your goals and manifesting your desires.
The holistic approach of Self CARE addresses the mind, body and spirit, brining the conscious and unconscious, physical, and esoteric into alignment with a synergistic purpose that speaks to the whole self. Goal oriented objectives are obtained through measurable performance and tracking results at a self-directed pace. Allowing for course correction means there is no time wasted on efforts that aren’t working.
The Four Steps of Self CARE™
Self CARE focuses on clarifying goals, then following up with action to achieve results that enrich your life. But the letters of CARE stand for more than that.
Commitment and consistency are both important; you have to work the program to make the program work. That’s where accurate assessment, accountability, and authentic action come in. Revealing motivational style and setting up rewards along the way keeps the momentum moving toward manifesting your desired results. Finally, embracing and embodying your true desires leads to enrichment.
Drawing on previous winning strategies, or emulating those of others, along with identifying skills, assets and resources rounds out the program for success. All off these steps combine to design an environment and process to support success.
Finding clarity doesn’t require gazing into a crystal ball. The things we seek in life, the jobs, relationships, possessions, experiences, are all pursued for the payoff. The better we can articulate exactly what we expect the payoff to be, the greater our chances of finding what we’re looking for and creating a satisfying life.
Often times, I’ve been sure I knew what I wanted, only to find out it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. Like the time I took a very good paying job as an after school tutor, but was cut off at the knees every day by a rigid, overbearing principal. What I thought would be an enriching few hours with students who needed focused help in specific subject areas, was in reality an expectation for me to repeat classroom lessons at the black board (ad nauseam for the kids, I’m sure) with no individual attention to any student.
Whether my ideas were off the mark, or the principal’s demands were unreasonable is not as relevant as understanding my expectations ahead of the game and knowing how to meet them. In hindsight, I should have been forthcoming with the principal as to my thoughts on tutoring and asked him if I would be a good fit.
Understanding the payoff is what motivates us, is the key to finding clarity. Let’s say a young girl dreams of being a performer—actor, singer, or dancer, on the stage or screen. But instead she takes the conventional road, marries, has children and lives in a small town her dream seemingly behind her.
We could talk about failure to start, or about giving up on the dream too soon. To that we could add guilt or blame—along with a healthy dose of making her bed and lying in it—she can’t run away in pursuit of the stage lights now, she has responsibilities.
Or, we could explore what she thought that other life might bring her and alternative ways to manifest the same feelings, if not the same experience. Community theater, for example, a drama or dance team coach for the high school, or even starting a Youtube channel to showcase her talents.
Understanding Your Motivational Style
Equally important as knowing what you want, is recognizing your motivational style. For the most part there are only two common denominators that spur us to action; we either fear a probable outcome, or desire it.
For example, a Certified Nursing Assistant can complete required education and be on the job earning a decent wage in as little as four to six weeks in some states. Did the CNA take that opportunity because it was the quickest way to a paycheck that covers the rent and puts food on the table, or because they always wanted to be a nurse and the CNA job helps fund further education? One reason is based in avoiding homelessness and hunger, while the other is manifesting a desire—or at least a step along the way.
Additionally we can be motivated by ease, or challenge. I recognized early that if somebody told me I couldn’t do something, I’d show them I could. My father realized it too. When I shared my plan to be a writer, he challenged my ability. Within a year I handed him my first published article in a local news paper. Forty years later I’m still writing.
There is no right or wrong, good or bad motivation style. Most people will have some combination of fear/desire and ease/challenge, and it can shift with each goal. Knowing (as best you can) exactly what it is you want, and understanding what motivates you to follow through, helps you set up the actions most likely to result in your desired outcomes.
Clarity also means defining specific and measurable goals. Say you’ve decided to create a healthy lifestyle. What exactly does that mean to you? Do you want to lose some weight, be more active, cut down on less nutritional foods like salty and sugary snacks? Does it mean getting more sleep, finding a less stressful job or cultivating a more positive group of friends?
Once you’ve defined your goal, how will you measure your progress? Weight loss is a good example of a measurable goal; by scheduling regular weight checks you can track your progress. What about finding a new job, though? Measurable tasks might include updating your resume and references, setting up accounts on job search sites, sending a specified number of applications a week, and following up on each application.
Completing a course of study or on the job training is measurable. Other, more self directed improvements may be more observable than meaureable, such as mastering a graphic design or spreadsheet program, perfecting your welding technique, or improving your public speaking. In that case, the measure might be sticking to a schedule of regular practice.
Don’t take on too much at once. Biting off more than you can chew is the quickest way to choke on your goals. Breaking larger goals down into actionable steps and manageable tasks, and approaching them one at a time will help you stay on track to the finish.
Choosing Authentic Actions
It’s important to ensure that your actions are authentic, meaning they support your goals. Running in place might be action, but you’ll never catch the bus.
My uncle quit smoking by putting the same amount of money he spent on cigarettes in one jar, while putting one cigarette for every one he smoked in another jar filled with water. Seeing how much he was spending on his habit, and watching the cigarettes turn the water brown, knowing it was doing the same to his lungs, helped him kick his nicotine addiction. That was authentic action.
On the other hand, if I want to stop eating junk food, stocking in a supply of candy bars and chips with a plan to put what I don’t eat in a pile so I can see how well I’m doing, is not going to work. I’d be binging on the Snickers and Fritos faster than a bunny nabbing bean blossoms in my garden. A better plan would be to keep junk food out of my house; I’m less likely to succumb to cravings if I make it harder to get my hands on the candy.
When choosing authentic actions, don’t forget about your motivational style. If my goal is fitness, an authentic action would be scheduling time for physical activity every day, rather than thinking I’ll fit it in—when everything else is done. Still, I’m not very motivated to exercise, I could easily blow of my scheduled time without having some kind of accountability.
Sometimes accountability is built in, we arrive at work on time every day because if we don’t, we’ll likely be unemployed before long. We brush our teeth so we don’t have bad breath, or have to face painful, expensive dental work. Most times, we need create accountability. If I pre-pay for six weeks of yoga, or purchase a pool pass to go swimming, I’m more likely to stick to my fitness plan because I’ve invested money.
Accountability might be teaming up with a friend who has the same goal. More than just encouraging and supporting each other, many of us are far less likely to cancel on a friend. Maybe you have to pay a fine (like a cuss jar) for skipped actions—if you have kids they’re usually more than happy to watch you like a hawk and accept all fines owed (or you could donate the amount to charity). Spouses or partners are usually good allies in this this method too.
One caution about asking others to help you stay accountable—remember that not everybody wants to see you succeed, especially if your changes upset their status quo. Don’t let allies be surreptitious saboteurs.
Of course, manifesting your desires is the big payoff, but building incentive into your Self CARE program from the beginning, with smaller rewards for good results along the way, helps you stay focused and motivated. Think about how rewards best work for you. Do you need daily encouragement, or are you more successful striving towards a bigger prize?
If the desired outcome is a promotion or new job, after polishing your resume, setting up your profile on job search sites, and sending out the number of applications you committed to, a reward might be hiring the services of a personal shopper to help you select the perfect interview ensemble, or a going to a stylist to give you a look that fits your profession.
Make sure rewards don’t stall your momentum. If you’re aiming to create a healthier, more active lifestyle, rewarding yourself with a day off to laze around in creature comfort likely won’t hinder your progress, but a week of ghosting your workouts because you reached a fitness milestone, might make it harder to get back in the game.
Be creative with your rewards—they don’t have to be elaborate or costly. You might even be able to capture two goals with one reward. I love to read but, lately, it’s been difficult to squeeze time for leisure reading into my day. I want to make it a goal, but it might work better as a reward, after completing a few hours of writing and editing. Likewise reading could become an authentic action, as a distraction from binge eating, smoking, too much screen time or any other unwanted habit.
Give Yourself A Gold Star
Marrying rewards to similar outcomes is effective, but not necessary for the program to work. Just give yourself something that makes you happy and feels worth the work you did to earn it—burger and suds at the local pub, a day at the park, the new shoes, the vacation, the decadent dessert
And never underestimate the power of the simple gold star, or it’s equivalent. Make a chart or a checklist to visibly track your accomplishments. Toss pennies, marbles, buttons or beads into glass jar—any method of visible accumulation that floats your boat and keeps you sailing toward your goal will do the trick. I save my to do lists after I’ve crossed off tasks. I’m still surprised by the sense of accomplishment I get just holding a stack of them in my hands.
After defining your goals and taking action you’ll begin to see results, revealing what works, and what doesn’t. If you fall short of stated goals, take some time to reassess the process, and readjust actions and rewards for better outcomes. Keep repeating your successes until you reach your ultimate goal and manifest your desire.
What’s left to be said? If you work the program you will manifest your desires. By clarifying your goals and motivation, creating measurable outcomes and rewarding your progress, you succeed in manifesting your desires and living an enriched life. Now you simply have to embrace you achievement and embody your success, wear it like a new suit.
Honestly, though, some of us have difficulty with receiving. Maybe we don’t believe we deserve to have what we want. Or, perhpas we think we do deserve all the good things, yet feel guilty about others who go without. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies and, as my wise mother used to say, we just have to get out of our own way. Give yourself permission to receive the good things you’ve worked for. If you feel badly that other’s have less, find ways to pay it forward that ease your conscience.
If you find you have problems with enjoying your success, try working the program to practice receiving graciously. Make it a goal, take authentic action to support the belief that you are deserving, and reward yourself with acceptance of all that you deserve.
Self CARE Is All About You
Remember that making positive changes in your life is all about you, because you are the only person you can change. Too often we think fulfilling our desires means changing somebody else, doing something that will make them love us or love us more, be kinder, more generous or just treat us fairly. We want them to stop substance abuse, or stop working too much, or start working more. We want them to stop doing things that hurt them and the relationship. In such cases, the choice to care for ourselves can be a difficult, but it’s even more important. Finding clarity on what you need, and how you want to proceed is the first step.