How often do you find yourself saying “I don’t have time…” in regards to the things that are just for you? Do your needs often get pushed off the end of your to-do list? Take a moment to reflect on the last week. How many times did you do something just for you? Juggling a busy life can make it feel challenging to pause and make yourself a priority, but this is an essential shift to avoid burnout and make progress in the direction that you want. When you make yourself a priority, you invest in your biggest resource – YOU!
If you need convincing, here are my top three reasons why you need to make yourself a priority now:
1. You can’t give what you don’t have
If you don’t look after your own needs you will have nothing left to give to all the people, projects, and causes that need you. Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others!
2. You set an example and a standard for others f you treat yourself like your needs don’t matter or can wait for later, others will follow your lead. Your children will follow the example you set in the expectations they place on you, and then later the expectations they place on themselves.
If you treat yourself like your needs don’t matter or can wait for later, others will follow your lead. Your children will follow the example you set in the expectations they place on you, and then later the expectations they place on themselves.
The people around you will see the way you treat yourself as your norm, and expect that always. Set the standard that you acknowledge and meet your own needs, and others will follow suit.
3. You deserve it! ou are a unique person who deserves to have your needs be a priority regularly. Treat yourself as you would treat the people in your life that you care about.
You are a unique person who deserves to have your needs met. This should be a priority. Regularly. If it helps you make the shift, try treating yourself as you would treat the people in your life that you care about.
13 simple ways to make yourself a priority
Making yourself a priority will look different for everyone. Here are 13 easy ideas to slot into your daily life (well, 12 easy ideas and one that might take more commitment):
1. Change your mindset
If you are going to have a hope in meeting your own needs, you are going to need to change your mindset. Decide that you deserve some time for you each day. Stop feeling guilty for taking that time and start getting clear that it is the best thing for everyone.
2. Say no to someone or something
Do it gently, but firmly. You will probably find it’s not as hard or uncomfortable as you think it is. Consider the fact that every time you say ‘yes’ to this same thing, you are saying ‘no’ to yourself. Once you get into the habit of doing this where you need to, you will wonder why it took you so long to start!
3. Say yes to yourself
Say yes to something that you have been saying no to for too long. A new hobby, a catch up with friends, time to read your book. You will know what that thing is…
4. Schedule your needs first
It doesn’t need to be a large block of your day (although it could be). Schedule in at least 15 minutes each day just for you. If meeting your base needs (such as lunch, water breaks, sleep) is a problem for you, schedule these too. Scheduling you first supports you to establish the habits that ensure you are not the one bumped off the bottom of your priority list.
5. Adjust your expectations
If you find you are running on low, your brain feels foggy, and you are having trouble making decisions, try and adjust your expectations on yourself. Remind yourself that this is necessary, but temporary. And understand that if you continue as you are, the struggle will too.
6. Strike at least one thing off your list
Find at least one thing that you can take off your to-do list each day. To do lists are a wonderful way of being organised, but I have yet to meet a person whose to-do list is not an ever growing monster. Fiona Hall ‘The How To Lady’ uses the term ‘radically under schedule’. It is incredibly difficult to accurately schedule even on a good day. Give yourself some breathing room and the best possible chance of planning realistically.
7. Identify your time wasters
Take a look at your day to day and identify the things that take up time with little to no return. Excess time on facebook, daily supermarket runs rather than weekly, answering emails first thing in the morning. Make a decision to limit the time wasters, and use this new found time for YOU.
8. Create a daily ritual
Create a daily ritual of something that you love. This could be taking a walk, listening to music, starting your day journaling, drinking your morning coffee in the sun with a good book. Something that you look forward to, and gives you 15-20 minutes where you need it in your day.
9. Embrace imperfect action
Understand that sometimes done is better than perfect. By allowing yourself to take imperfect action you can shift your focus to the most important place it needs to be. This does not mean that you cannot do things well. Just acknowledge that there are times that your time and energy is better saved for elsewhere. Namely, you!
10. Remember the benefit that comes from the action
If you want more time to read, opportunities to catch up with friends, a chance to try a new hobby, but find you are struggling to find time for it – identify the benefit that comes from the action. If you have more time to read, what will that do for you? When you have an opportunity to catch up with friends, how do you feel? What is the impact on the rest of your day (or week) when you get to try that new thing? Focus on the benefit and you will find it easier to find the time.
11. Ask for help
If you are not making yourself and your needs a priority, then no one else can either. Identify an area that you could use support, and ask for help. The truth is, most people actually love being able to help, they just don’t know what to do. Give them some direction and genuine appreciation and chances are they will jump at the chance.
12. Start a gratitude journal
A study by researchers from the Universities of Minnesota and Florida found that when participants wrote down a list of the positive things that happened at the end of their day, and why they made them happy, their stress levels were lowered and they had a greater sense of calm that night. This habit also helps to keep you grounded in what you love about your life and the progress you are making. The human mind easily focuses on the negative, which is useful at times, but without the focus on the positive, you will be in a state of imbalance. Starting a gratitude journal can be challenging at first because it is yet another thing to remember to do, but when you experience the benefits it is worth it. Grab any notebook and spend 10-15 minutes writing what you are grateful for. Or purchase a purpose built gratitude journal. I have been using one from the Gratitude Girls over at AwesoME Inc here (affiliate link*)
13. Commit to one memorable day per month
On the larger scale of commitment to yourself, here’s a wonderful idea shared by Bruce Grierson on Psychology Today (check it out here)
He made a commitment to give himself one memorable day per month. His ‘Big Day’. The point is that this day is more than to-do lists, and days whittled away by tedious odd jobs pulling you in different directions. The only rule that the day must be about only one thing. One mission, one experience, one focus. As he describes it “the goal is to build a mountain I can get up and down in 24 hours.”
This isn’t a literal mountain (although it could be), it is a self-imposed break where you immerse yourself in one thing that feeds you and is free from obligation. Speaking of his own memorable days, Bruce Grierson states:
“My own best Big Days have delivered not a finished product, necessarily, but a feeling. A state change. After my hardest but most memorable Big Day to date—an experiment: How far could I go in a day under my own power?—I was walking three inches off the Earth for about a week. My wife reported that I was a different guy. I was attentive, I had energy. I was glad to be home, because I had truly, in a way that’s hard to describe, been away.”
This shouldn’t feel like work
Whatever ways you decide to make yourself a priority, remember this: it shouldn’t feel like work. Often adjusting your mindset, changing your habits, and making change can feel hard. And that’s okay. But it should not feel heavy or add to your stress. It should provide relief, promise, and a feeling of hope. When you glance through the list above or think about other ideas you have or have been shared with you, take note of the ones that resonate with you, that intuitively speak to you. Ask yourself why they stood out, and how they might fit into your unique life and needs.
What one action will you take to start making yourself more of a priority? Share with us in the comments below…
* This post contains an affiliate link. There is no additional cost to you, but I will receive a small percentage if you decide to make a purchase. Transparency is important to me. I only recommend products and services that I use myself and genuinely align with my core priorities and values. Please only purchase when you feel the same way.