This is not a new concept, but one that I come across in my coaching business all the time. Especially when talking to women who have families.
This concept of looking after yourself, or self-nurture. Looking after number one.
Sounds so selfish doesn’t it. I hear your reactions already. It goes against everything you have been taught. Don’t think about yourself. Give and you will receive. The best people are those who think about others constantly.
Sure. If you are on top of your game. Giving out of a well that is topped up with goodies of energy, enthusiasm, creative ideas and healthy mindsets.
But what happens when you are giving out of a place of tiredness, negativity, and resentment?
Nothing happens. Nothing good, anyway. You are not effective when you have been run ragged and feel like falling into a heap. Your mindset around looking after yourself needs an adjustment (or perhaps a massive overhaul). When you are operating at a ‘10’ – that is the best that you can possibly be, to your maximum effectiveness and full potential, you are giving an amazing gift to the world and the people in your life.
Not only will you feel the best you have ever felt, absolutely buzzing and full of motivation, but those around you will get the overflow. Your relationships will flourish, your creativity will be heightened, your business ideas and management will much more effective and your greater productivity levels will free up more time to spend on areas that you love (like hanging out with your family).
Change is always daunting at first and takes time to implement. But the start of change is making a decision that you are not going to keep living like you currently are.
Step 1: Redefining priorities
Take a good look at where all your time is being spent currently and what areas are being a little neglected because you are tired, or focused elsewhere. Come back to the areas and people in your life that are most important to you and think about why you want to be investing your energy there. What areas of your life are sucking the life out of you that perhaps you need to disconnect from.
Step 2: See the benefits of change
Look at all the areas of your life that you are pouring so much time and energy into currently and write out a list of how those areas would benefit if you are operating at your very best. Change is the essence of life, and unavoidable. We are constantly changing whether you are consciously aware of it or not. The benefit of considering the creative changes you want to make in your own life is that you step over the line where everything is happening to you and at your expense, to a place where you are creating a life that is full and fulfilling. By initially focussing on your values (what is important to you) you can move in a direction that is firstly benefiting you personally and then benefiting the people and the areas of your life that are most important to you.
Step 3: Give up the excuses
The only person who really believes your excuses is you. We all know enough these days to see that if we really want to find the money, or take the time to do something we can. If we really, really want to. Get honest with yourself about why you burn yourself out constantly. Understand that even though you say it is for others, really it comes back to you needing some kind of fulfilment.
When we blame others and make excuses we are living in a zone that is referred to in our coaching process as the “effect” zone. This is where everything in your life is happening to you. This often leads to high levels of frustration, overwhelm and resentment. This is living life by default and is how a lot of the world live. The realisation that you have a choice between living that way OR living at cause is huge for a lot of people. When you live at cause, you are aware that you are able to make the decisions that are necessary at any given moment to create the life that you dream about and desire. This is what moves you closer to living at your full potential and with purpose. You live daily on-purpose. This process of looking after yourself and making time for yourself is a big step in the direction of a life by your own design.
Step 4: The steps to creating the change
Write out next a big list of all the things that you think you need to do to create this change. It might be having a conversation with your family or partner about setting aside a time each week where you can focus on having “me” time.
It might be signing up to start a new fitness programme, or enrolling in a course you have always wanted to do. Alongside this look at the resources needed to do these things and how you can work towards that.
There are a couple of common mindsets that present themself here that becomes a challenge for a lot of people. The first is the guilt that is often associated with doing something for yourself. We are so consumed with looking after everyone else (especially in families) that it is sometimes hard to move past this. The key here is to come back to the overall benefits of this change. Low self-worth is the other negative mindset that rears its ugly head here and usually goes hand-in-hand with that guilty feeling. Writing down a list and acknowledging yourself for all the good things you are, do and create in your life is a great exercise to help you start moving beyond this. Write down 100 things that you want to be acknowledged for, and start reading these things back to yourself. Even better, ask your partner to read 10 of them to you every night! Accepting them from this person is also extremely important.
When we blame others and make excuses we are living in a zone that is referred to in our coaching process as the “effect” zone.
Step 5: Start with just one thing
When we want to transform our lives, often overwhelm is a massive contributor to us falling off the wagon. We want big results now, and when we don’t see that we give up. Today, think of one thing you can do for yourself to help you feel better, relax more or feel more satisfied. Just one thing. After you have done this one thing, reflect on how it made you feel. What was your attitude afterwards. How were your energy levels? How did it effect the people around you? Your work? This sort of mindfulness will help you see the positive effects and move you forward.
Step 6: Implement a plan to review this on a monthly basis
Every month take a couple of hours to sit with yourself and review what you have done for yourself this month to nurture yourself, grow yourself and develop a pattern of respecting yourself. Reflect on the benefits. Then make a plan for what you will do in the following month that will keep this new habit going.
Step 7: Non negotiables
Once you get into a regular routine of creating time for yourself you will start to find the activities that really do energise and re-inspire you. Make some of these things non-negotiables in your week or daily routine. Good supportive habits are best when they are committed to and set in stone. If you don’t lock these into your calendar, there will always be something else that comes up that will distract you, or steal your time. For example, if it is going to the gym every day that really gets you going, then lock in the time and treat it like an important appointment (think doctors appointment, client meeting etc).
When something else comes up that wants to steal that time, you immediately answer no – you are already booked for that time. What I found was I started with making small time outs for me, like 10 minutes of meditation, or an hour to go have a coffee and read. It then grew to bigger chunks of time for me such as my morning ritual with meditation, gratitude journal, exercise and reading (before my daughter woke) and now I take 3 days off every 6 weeks to completely switch off whereby I check myself into a hotel to completely give back and re-energise myself from work (running multiple businesses), travelling, social media, parenting, partnering and housework. It’s been such an incredible discipline to fill up my tank so I can give back so much more.
Here’s some areas to consider that will help you to do this (areas we often neglect):
- Rest sleep is essential to our wellbeing, and yet we abuse it so often. When you don’t get enough sleep, or your have a bad sleep routine, you are never playing on top of your game. Make this a non-negotiable. (Make naps when you can a non negotiable with a new born!)
- Exercise and nutrition this is not just about looking good. This is about getting your body and mind into the place when it is functioning at maximum energy and efficiency.
- Take time out this is really important for coming back to what is the authentic ‘you’. When you are surrounded by people and noise constantly it’s hard to hear your own soul voice.
- Have a hobby or something you love doing regularly that is totally you – not something you do with your kids or your partner. Find your own thing that really excites you or enlivens you and practise this on a regular basis. It might just be as simple as getting your nails done every week, or going to an art gallery. Most importantly, have fun taking care of yourself and discovering what you truly need so you’re functioning at your best!