Thursday, August 6, 2009

Make Self-ishness a Priority

True, lasting success comes only to those who place themselves first. This may sound selfish -- and it is intended to. Being “self”-ish ensures that you have the strength, energy, and health (physical, mental, spiritual) within yourself to stand firmly so that you have the strength, energy and health to give of yourself to all that you want to be/do in your life. Just like placing the oxygen mask over your face before assisting another on an aircraft, it is important to provide yourself the sustenance you need first so that you don’t black out before you have a chance to make the impact you are intending. The “self” is where you must focus first.

Self-care is the most important thing you can do for others, and the most crucial piece to achievement. When you race at blinding speeds, running your motor for long stretches without a break, you can overheat and end up losing the momentum and distance you have created. It is essential that you keep your engine in optimal condition, filled with petrol, oil, and water, so that you don’t run the risk of grinding to a dangerous halt before you reach your destination.

Self-ishness requires that you consider where you are putting your time and energy. Do you do-do-do without taking the time to replenish your energy stores? Are you feeling tired, stretched, and maybe even unfulfilled? Are you continually saying “yes” because you feel like you should, or that you will fail if you don’t? Do you resist saying “no” because you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings or risk looking bad?

It is time to take a look at your commitments and see if they are still in alignment with what you really want and who you want to be. Evaluate all you are saying “yes” and “no” to in your life. These may include commitments at work and home, in your social life, or even in your love life. Consider distractions as well, such as physical or mental clutter (e.g., a messy living space, expired relationships, etc.) as areas where you may also be saying “yes/no.” Take the Wheel of Life assessment to identify how satisfied you are with various areas of your life.

Take an honest look at what is working and not working – what you are committed to and what you are merely tolerating. This is the time when you need to consider creating some boundaries for yourself and others. Your objective is to use your time and energy only for what you care about; otherwise, clear it out and make space for what is really important to you.

To be our best selves, we have to make the investment.
Commit to honoring your values. Share what you want and what you are up to with with others to gain support, encouragement, and accountability. Ask for help if you need it, and don't be afraid to partner with others to reinforce your growth and contribute to theirs. Be vigilant about carving out time for self-care – whether that is dedicated relaxation time, a dental appointment, reading for pleasure, or even a session with a coach or therapist. Put it on your calendar and treat it with the same importance as you would a meeting with your boss.

When you are conscious about who you want to be and where you want to put your time and energy, you are setting yourself up to win. It is only by taking care of yourself first that you will truly be effective, fulfilled and energized. Make self-ishness a priority so you can be your best self in all areas of your life.