“Strive for self care, it’s ok to care of yourself first.”
No one is going to get you to where you want to be but you. If you don’t do it, nobody else will. If you want to create the life that you desire, you need to take responsibility for your life and do the things which are necessary to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Goal setting and goal achievement require a great deal of commitment and energy. If you don’t handle things properly, you can easily become stressed. One of the most overlooked components of goal achievement is the need for self-care i.e. the need to put yourself first. To put yourself first is to ensure that you are looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.
The important truth is that if you fail to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally, you may find yourself facing an insurmountable setback. Energy, enthusiasm and motivation are not bottomless wells. What if you were unable to reach your goals because of your physical or mental condition? It’s something to consider.
You cannot keep taking; you must take regular action to refill your reserves. When you put yourself first, you make this a priority and a regular ritual. You do not wait until something goes wrong to address the issue. To put yourself first is to be proactive. You take consistent action to refill your well of energy, enthusiasm and motivation long before you ever see the bottom of the well. As a result, you are better able to perform at your optimum level.
Activities to put yourself first
The following are some key activities to help you put yourself first and maintain the energy, enthusiasm and motivation to tackle and overcome your biggest challenges. These activities will help you to achieve your goals while protecting your mental and physical wellbeing. These activities are incredibly simple strategies to put yourself first.
A clear purpose is essential for life. Without a clear sense of purpose, you end up wandering aimlessly through life. Your purpose makes it easy for you to identify the things that you need to do and, when you need to do them. It also becomes easier to say ‘No’ to the things and the people that do not contribute to your personal fulfillment..
It is not enough just to consider your purpose once. It is something which you need to revisit on a regular basis to reaffirm your purpose; identify whether your purpose has actually changed; and, to assess whether you are doing everything within your power to live your purpose.
You wouldn’t set out on journey without having a clear idea about where you want to go; would you? Well life is a journey, yet most people do not take the time to develop a clear vision about the life that they want to create for themselves. This leads to them taking on any task or project that comes their way. After a while, they wonder why they feel like they are treading water and making little progress.
If you want to be able to effectively prioritize your tasks and projects, you need to know whether they are going to take you where you want to go in life. If you don’t have a clear vision for your life, you have little chance of prioritizing effectively. To start with, you can start reflecting upon the following 3 questions:
Who do I want to be?
What do I want to do?
What do I want to have?
Answering those questions properly will start the cogs of your mind turning and bring you closer to developing your vision.
Goals and planning
A big vision for life is essential but it can be overwhelming if you are constantly focused on it. The key to avoiding this sense of overwhelm is to break your vision down into goals which, once completed, will take you closer to the realization of that vision. Effective goals will keep you motivated and focused on what you really need to do.
If you do not have effective goals for your life, you need to take the time to set some. In addition, you need to set aside regular time to work on those goals. The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting can help.
Learning and development
Your vision and your goals should require you to grow and stretch both as a person and as a professional in your industry. This requires learning and development. You could be reactive and wait until you hit a problem before you choose to learn something new. However, it will take you some time to learn the new knowledge or skills. In the meantime, you will be severely delayed and you are likely to experience stress as you struggle to cope with the challenges you experience.
When you put yourself first, you are proactive and set aside time for learning and development. When you set your goals, you take the time to identify the areas where you are likely to be lacking in knowledge and skills. You then put in place a plan to bridge the gap between where you are and where you need to be in terms of your knowledge and skills.
As already stated, when you begin to put yourself first, you will need to say ‘No’ to more people, work and opportunities. If you are going to do this, you need to be able to look people in the eye and say ‘No’. At first, people are likely to resist and try to convince you to change your mind. To stay on track and not allow yourself to be swayed, you need to master assertive communication. Assertive communication is rarely mentioned in terms of self-care but it allows you to defend your time and your rights which is an essential component of self-care.
One of the best ways to achieve long lasting good health is through a program of regular exercise. Conversely, one of easiest ways to ruin your health is to neglect your body’s need to move. In a world which has become dominated by knowledge work and administration, we no longer get the necessary exercise through our work activities. Whereas traditional workers would have expended thousands of calories performing their daily tasks, we tend to sit on our butts all day.
Getting enough exercise isn’t difficult. It’s simply a matter of making it a priority and setting aside the time. If you can’t find a half hour every day to exercise then you are essentially saying that you can’t find a half hour every day to maintain proper health – both physical and mental. You also don’t need fancy equipment. A simple vigorous walk will clear your head for the tasks at hand, as well as giving you the exercise you need.
Another way to take care of yourself and avoid the pitfall of poor health is through proper diet. Eating correctly is just as important to your well being as exercise. It can be a difficult process and take time but as you improve your diet, you will be feeding your body and mind with better fuel which leads to better performance.
An often overlooked ingredient in performance is sleep. If you do not get sufficient sleep, you are already beginning the day with an energy deficit. If you are lacking in energy, you will find it incredibly difficult to tackle your most important tasks. In addition, the lack of energy you experience as a result of insufficient sleep often leads to you seeking out sugary junk food and drink to give you the missing energy. This is not a healthy choice.
When you get sufficient sleep, you make a full recover from the pressures and strains of the previous day. This allows you to take on the challenges of the new day with greater energy, enthusiasm and confidence. All of which lead to improved performance. Getting sufficient sleep is an essential component of putting yourself first.
Nobody, or nothing, should be able to interfere with your need to get enough sleep.
Meditation and relaxation
Energy levels are not consistent throughout the day. There will be times when you are bursting with energy and you are able to speed through your tasks but there will also be times when you are so lacking in energy that you are fit to drop.
Rather than trying to fight your way through the times when you lack energy, it is much smarter to try and maximize your relaxation and recovery. Activities such as meditation, yoga, flexibility and mobility exercises, massage and simple relaxation will allow you to recover quicker and better. You will be able to return to your work with more energy, allowing you to perform to a higher standard.
As strange as it may seem, one of the best things you can do to enhance your performance and productivity is to take a 25 minute nap in the middle of your day. If you consistently try to push through your fatigue, you will quickly burn out. Instead, put yourself first and schedule time for rest and relaxation activities. You may end up working slightly less hours but the time that you work will be far more effective i.e. you will get more important work done in less time.
Journaling and self-awareness
You have 60,000 or more thoughts per day. Unfortunately, they are not all good or helpful. You need to process this information in some way so that you can get it out of your head. Journaling allows you to do so. Just take a pen and paper, set a timer for 5-10 minutes and write down everything that comes into your head until the alarm sounds.
Over time, you will be able to read back through what you have written. Some of it will just need to be thrown in the bin but some of it will provide useful lessons and heighten your self-awareness about what is going on in your life.
It is easy to become obsessed with everything that goes wrong in your life and ignore all of the positives. You then begin to think that your life is all bad which is both unrealistic and unhelpful. For the sake of your health and wellbeing, you need to have as realistic a perspective on your life as you can manage. If something needs to be changed, you definitely need to acknowledge it.
However, you also need to identify the positives to ensure a balanced and healthy perspective. Take a little time each day to write down everything for which you are grateful. Write down the reasons that you are grateful i.e. the benefits you experience as a result of having this positive in your life.
All of these tips will help you to reduce stress and maximize your performance.
The takeaway here is that you cannot work with your foot constantly on the gas pedal. Just like your car, you need to regularly switch the engine off and perform some maintenance. Rather than wait for problems to arrive, you can put yourself first by being proactive and ensuing that the necessary actions are taken before a problem can arise. When you put yourself first, you maintain your mental and physical wellbeing. You boost your energy, enthusiasm and motivation and you most definitely improve your performance and productivity.
Put yourself first, practice self-care and reap the many rewards that come with it.
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Have a great day!