Recently, I’ve noticed that far too many women that I know (including myself!) have a tendency to put ourselves last. We muster up the energy to wake up in the middle of the night to take care of the kids (or our beloved pet), stay late at the office to meet a deadline for the boss, or drop everything to support a friend in need (even when that same friend seems to “need” you all the time).
Yet, when it comes to taking care of ourselves, we can’t find the time. We can’t manage to make it to the gym, take a few minutes of quiet time, or do something to utterly spoil ourselves. If you’re like me, you find it hard to put yourself on your growing list of to dos. Yet, it’s so important to put yourself on the list.
Why is it important to put yourself on the list? First, let me illustrate what happens when you don’t. When you don’t make time to take care of your needs, you get resentful, irritable, make impulsive decisions that don’t serve you and burn out. In contrast, when you do make time for yourself, you feel more energized. You actually cultivate a relationship of trust with yourself.
Steven Covey came up with the concept of an emotional bank account. When we say that we are going to do something for ourselves and fail to do it, we are making a withdrawal from our emotional bank account. When we keep our commitments to ourselves, we make deposits. Guess what happens when you constantly make withdrawals without replenishing the account? You’re overdrawn! The same is true with your emotional well being. Taking time for yourself is essential for your well being, and the highest act of love that you can show yourself and others.
Here are some tips to help you put yourself first.
1. Have a weekly date with yourself. Schedule some time for yourself each week and let that time be absolutely sacred. No multi tasking; no rescheduling (unless there is a genuine emergency). This is time that you carve out to do absolutely anything your heart desires. Spoil yourself!
2. Create a cancellation policy for personal appointments. Just like a doctor’s office, create a cancellation policy for your personal appointments. For example, make it a policy that you will not cancel any appointment for yourself without at least 24 hours notice, unless there is a dire emergency. Create a financial penalty for any time you violate the policy and put that money in a special account (or piggy bank) dedicated just for your happiness. This policy applies to any appointment that is dedicated to helping you achieve your personal best, such as going to the gym, the spa, a date with friends, a spiritual outing, the beauty parlor, etc.
3. Before you say yes, check in. Whenever you receive a request to do something, check in with yourself to see whether you really want to do it. Tell your friend, spouse, boss, or kid that you’ll get right back to them, and give yourself a couple of minutes to consider the request. You may want to ask yourself the following:
a. Do I really want to do this?
b. If I say yes to this, will I be giving up something that I could be doing for myself?
c. If I say yes, how will I feel?
d. Will this help me honor myself or my values?