Putting Yourself at the Top Your To Do List

3 Empowering Truths to Make Yourself A Priority

Ever feel like a hamster on a wheel that keeps spinning faster?

iStockToDoListYour day is packed with work, family commitments and social activities that leave no time for you. You’re juggling so many competing demands, the stress can become overwhelming. And the media image of the “super woman” who can do it all while looking perfect can make you feel even worse. Does this resonate?

My self-talk used to sound like this:

“OMG! I’ve got a huge deadline. How did I get so far behind? Forget the gym – not happening. Maybe next week….”

“Dinner needs to get on the table, but there’s no time to cook. Hello, pizza! Damn! All those healthy vegetables I planned to eat will go bad (again).”

“Ahh… bedtime. But, sleep, where are you? Brain – turn off your churning spin-cycle of all the things I didn’t get done today. And stop worrying about how to get it all done tomorrow!”

Living like this left me feeling stressed-out, unhealthy and overwhelmed. I wasn’t showing up the way I wanted to for my husband and kids. I was overweight and out of shape. And I was doing so much, it felt like nothing was getting done very well.

Clearly, I needed to break this pattern. With some good coaching, I learned 3 truths that helped me take care of myself (without feeling selfish) and become a lot happier, healthier and productive.

Truth # 1: There is always a choice

I spent years following the rules and doing what was expected of me. My inner good girl wanted everyone to like me so I didn’t make waves (most of the time). I gave up my personal power instead of being the leader of my own life.

Practical Insight: When you start to feel overwhelmed, notice what you’re telling yourself. If you’re saying “I should …”, “I have to…” or “I can’t …” – STOP! That language is a warning to hit the pause button and challenge your thinking. Instead, ask yourself: Why? Who says so? What do I really want? Then make a conscious choice. Decide from a place of personal empowerment. Then change your language to: “I choose to…,” I want to…” or “I can… “. You may make the same decision sometimes, but it will be a deliberate choice, not a default response.

Truth #2: Taking care of yourself is a priority

I grew up believing I needed to put everyone else first. Making my needs a priority felt selfish. I wore myself out taking care of everyone, began to lose sight of my dreams and started feeling resentful (though I didn’t admit it – a good girl shouldn’t feel that way!).

Practical Insight: You can’t show up in the world as your best self when you feel stressed out, overwhelmed and resentful. You make your highest contributions when you acknowledge your needs, take care of yourself and do what brings you happiness. Everyone benefits.

Truth #3: Setting boundaries is healthy.

Remember that old song from Oklahoma, “I’m just a girl who can’t say no?” That was me! I said yes with a smile even when inside I really wanted to say no. Why?  Because I thought I should. And I worried about what other people would think of me if I said no.

Practical Insight: Part of making yourself a priority is learning to set boundaries. What is one thing on your to-do list that you’re doing out of obligation, not desire? Say no to it! Remember: you are making a conscious choice to say no so you can say yes to yourself.

If self-care and doing what’s important to you has been low on your priority list, shifting your thinking and behavior may feel uncomfortable at first. Do it anyway. You’re worth it!

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