Appreciative Inquiry is a positivity-focused planning process that allows teams to build on the best of their past to dream of the best future. This strategy can be helpful in organizational problem-solving. You start with a goal (rather than a problem, as in problem-based learning or design thinking), and then you go through five steps: define, discover, dream, design, and deliver. Alliteration aside, the process asks you to start with what’s good, discover what’s next, put down your dreams, design your dreams, and then deliver on them.
I have been playing with this process developed by Case Western Reserve University to facilitate organizational change. But, I have also been playing with this tool as a means of personal growth.
How about you use Appreciative Inquiry to help your self-care practice?
Self-care is basically a process of making sure that you aren’t burned to the core. You make sure to keep your inner-self nourished and whole. It isn’t about being selfish or self-focused. Instead, it is about self-preservation. Self-care is about making yourself ready for anything the world throws at you. Here are the steps to help you make the most of yourself.
- Define: This is an illuminating and essential step. Take stock of yourself. Ask yourself a series of questions. Write your answers. Draw your answers. Think your answers. It’s the type of work that is best done with a little procrastination. This is the kind of stuff that bubbles up when you are driving the car or standing in the shower. So, start, stop and start again. As yourself questions, like, who are you? What makes you tick? What makes you freeze? What exhausts you? What ignites you?
- Discover: This is a process that can work in many ways. In traditional AI, you can frame a series of exercises to go through discovery. But, for self-care, try giving yourself this challenge: write 5 sentences about your greatest desires.
- Dream: Now that you know about your greatest desires, spend some time dreaming. What are ways that you can make it to your desires? Don’t negate your dreams. Don’t say no to yourself.
- Design: Alright, so now you have your beginning (defining) and your ending (discover), and some of the ways you can get there (dreams). So, what next? Design concrete ways that you can get there. For example, if your greatest desire is to be healthy, and you dream of being muscular, then design a way to make exercise part of your life. Now, this is a concrete example, certainly, and goals like “be happy” might be harder. When your goals seem too abstract, break them down. So, go back to your define statements, what makes you happy?
- Deliver: In a non-profit, this is easy. You turn your strategic plan into action points and show how you did it. But, for people, this is the same in some ways. You make yourself accountable to your goals. Put them on your calendar. Give yourself tasks. Basically, make ways to help yourself achieve your goals.