We can spend all of our time on everyone and everything else that we sometimes forget to refuel ourselves. When you don't provide the mental maintenance to ensure your own well-being, that is akin to a stalled car sitting on the side of the road waiting for a jump start or a tow. Getting a jump start is not the issue if you really need it, but most times it's poor planning on our part that ushers us into a predicament, creating the need to get back on track. The larger issue that some of us encounter is not taking care of self, making it a priority to nurture our soul and replenish what we so willingly give away that is irretrievable: time.
Taking care of self can be as simple as getting a massage, running an errand without the kids, or taking a couple of hours to read a book because that soothes our soul. Taking care of self can also mean completing the degree that you have put off for years or starting the business you regularly mention to those close to you. I've learned that if I don't make myself a priority, I won't be a priority on anyone else's list. It's not that those close to me don't care, but rather it's about my lack of communication and boundaries for what I need and want. The reality is, if people don't know what you need, they can't help you.
We can be our own worst enemies by doing the thing we admonish others not to do: taking time for self. "Being busy" is NOT an excuse and will not eliminate the need for you to refuel or replenish your spirit. Some of us understand the importance of carving out "me time", and can simply say, "I'm taking this time for me", and do it. There are others who will not take heed and will be the car on the side of the road waiting for a tow. If you are challenged with following through on personal goals, and need something more formal and structured, then this article may give you the push to getting the self-therapy you need.
If you want a practical way to jump start your focus on S-E-L-F, here is a quick and easy project plan to get started.
- Create a quick outline for your project plan and document your overarching goal at the top: I will spend (whatever time) doing something I love that feeds my passion.
- List the things you are passionate about and determine how much time you can contribute to this activity each week. Your list is just a brain dump of everything you have a passion or interest in, you can look at the feasibility or logistics next.
- Rank the list in ascending order with #1 being the priority. Review each activity for how likely you will be able to start or sustain. If the item proves too challenging now to commit to, move it to a "parking lot" and revisit later.
- After removing your parking lot items, renumber your list with highest priority first and continue to work down the list. Write next to each item a day and time you can commit to it and select one to get started.
- Communicate to your immediate circle (family, friends, or anyone who may potentially violate this time) that you will be busy.
- Make a promise to yourself that whatever comes up, you will schedule around it (not including life threatening issues of course).
After your first experience with any item on your list, make a note of how you felt and any special preparations needed to execute this activity. If it took a lot of effort to prepare but you enjoyed it, then see how you can make it easier. However, if you did not enjoy it as much as you thought, look at the next activity on your list. The goal is to find something that refuels you but it should not feel like work. Update your list often and try new things. Spending time on you is just as important as anything else.