Well-Being//

Why Making Yourself a Priority is Key for Your Success

What would it take for you to know that putting yourself first can make all the difference?

Nattapong Wongloungud / EyeEm/ Getty Images
Nattapong Wongloungud / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Last week, I was getting ready for an international trip that demanded a lot of preparation. When I got up in the morning, I grabbed my regular dose of coffee, and jump right into my to-do list — answering emails, packing my suitcase, making calls, and running around from one thing to the other on autopilot.

A few hours later, I began to feel my energy dip, and I started to feel overwhelmed. I hadn’t showered, hadn’t had breakfast, and hadn’t exercised or meditated. I found myself getting irritated, and something inside me — the better part of myself — shouted at me, “Stop running around, go shower, have breakfast, walk around the block, and then come back and continue your packing.”

It was such a major a pattern interruption. I had no choice but to do all that. (Plus, I put on my favorite lipstick that always brightens my day!) When I came back to what I had to do, I felt way more energized, more centered, and yes — even more joyful to keep preparing for my trip.

It dawned on me more than any other time in the past that the excuses we make for ourselves to not do the things that energize us and make us feel our best, are exactly that — excuses. When we tell ourselves we don’t have time to do the things that make us feel centered and clear-headed, we’re giving ourselves a strong message that we’re not as important as our tasks. Somehow, we’re wired backwards. We’re telling ourselves we don’t deserve to make time for what helps us thrive — and then we end up feeling depleted, stressed, irritated, and ultimately running on empty.

When we take time to reconnect with ourselves, however works best for each one of us, we feel like we have a buffer from everything else we have to face that day. Taking that time for myself was my armor to the stress of the upcoming trip. I felt like there was a little cushion between me and my stress. It was much more manageable, and everything after that felt effortless.

In my book Waking Up to the Joy Of You, I wrote a chapter called “Knowing Your Linchpin.” A linchpin refers to the small pin passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position. When that linchpin is out of place, the entire structure falls apart. Similarly, if you’re neglecting the one thing you have to do everyday for your well-being — for your wheels to stay in position — the rest of your day can actually fall apart. So instead, you reach for that extra cup of coffee, a muffin, or anything that will give you a false sense of comfort.

Making ourselves a priority should be a primary law, like gravity. So, here are my three tips that can help you override your old pattern, and replace it with the power of choosing you everyday:

Schedule the time

Whatever you need to do to feel your best, identify it, write it down, and put your name next to it. For example, “Rebecca’s time to go to the gym, meditate, stretch, and make her favorite smoothie.” By scheduling the time in your calendar, you won’t be able to use the excuse that you don’t have the time. It’s right there in front of you! You make the time for you, just like you would make the time for someone else.

Find a support buddy

I’ve found that having a friend involved in your daily self ritual is key if you want to follow through with them. Recently, my 27-year-old niece, Isabella, has been my support buddy. She texts me everyday, asking me to let her know what time I’m doing my workout. She keeps reminding me very lovingly until the end of the day. By sharing your obstacles with someone you trust, you have someone to report to, and that helps on the days you tell yourself you’re too tired, or too busy. Think of this person as your “Thrive Buddy.”

Think of it as a primary law

Self-care sounds like an indulgence, but if you reframe your thinking to see it as a natural, non-negotiable part of your day, you’ll see that it’s not as complicated as you thought. When we tell ourselves we can’t afford to take the time, we end up spiraling into a self-defeating cycle, where we judge ourselves and fill our minds with negative self-talk. Instead, rethink what self-care means. The busiest, most successful people in the world thrive by taking time for themselves, from Michelle Obama to Richard Branson. (Michelle Obama worked out religiously everyday, and got those biceps we all recognize. I always wondered what time she had to wake up to carve that into her schedule!) It’s about expanding to the reality that there’s plenty of time, and that our excuses are lies that we’re telling ourselves. Trust me — whether it’s five minutes or an hour, you’ll thank yourself for honoring what gives you the vitality to master your day.

So, now it’s up to you. Find a buddy, schedule the time, and thank yourself for making yourself a priority. You deserve it. And share your results with us!

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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