Conventional wisdom centers around giving more of yourself to others in your life than you would to what you want to accomplish. You’re taught to make sacrifices and put your needs secondary because that’s how you’ll become a better person. However, not making yourself a priority is keeping you from accomplishing your goals and getting more done.
There’s a significant difference between being selfish and being self-centered. When you think about paying attention to yourself—your dreams, your body, your mental health, and everything that has to do with you—what is it that you are thinking about? How would you feel if just for one hour (and maybe we can even stretch this a little bit to one day), you only think about you and your needs? Many of us confuse taking care of ourselves with being selfish or inconsiderate, but if you truly give this some thought, you’ll realize that in order to be all that you want for everyone else, you must first take care of yourself and make yourself a priority.
So how do you make yourself a priority?
Step 1: Tell yourself it’s OK to be selfish.
While saying “selfish” has negative connotations, I am using it purposely because I think that it is important that you know that it is OK to take care of yourself and attend to your needs. So, the first thing you must do is accept that taking care of yourself is OK. One thing that might sound silly but actually is extremely helpful is to stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself and ask yourself the following questions: What do I want? What do I need? How can I make myself feel better at this moment? If you can make yourself write down the answers, that’s even better, but even if you just give yourself a few seconds to look in the mirror and show yourself the love and care that you deserve, that’s a great start and you are already on the right path to making yourself a priority!
Step 2: Write down three things that are priorities in your life.
I would actually encourage you to write down a list of 10 things that are important to you and then rewrite them in order of priority. It might help to highlight the things that are important to you, then, take a look at the list and think about everything that you have done the past week. Was any of what you did related to the list? Let’s even be more specific and ask yourself if what you’ve done in the past week was related to the top three things that are important to you or that you want to achieve.
With a new year just around the corner, it is important that you let go of things that are not meaningful in your life and that are not serving you well for whatever reason. If for some reason you find that you’re having a hard time letting go of some things with certain people, ask yourself: why? Why is it that I’m holding on to things that make me feel unhappy or unworthy or whatever it is that is not positive and is not contributing to my well-being?
Step 3: Identify what is holding you back.
This can be a little bit overwhelming because it involves a lot of thoughts and emotions and you might have to dig deeper, but try to get a list of at least three things that you know hold you back from achieving your goals and making yourself a priority! What did you come up with? For most people, fears and anxiety are at the core of why they’re not making themselves a priority. Whatever it is standing in your way, once again, ask yourself why. If, for example, you are afraid to take a day off or to leave your job or to take a risk or whatever it is that you know you need to do, then instead of allowing yourself to stay anxious or afraid, push yourself and ask yourself why.
Why is it that I am not taking a day off when I know that I desperately need it? Or, if your issues are with relationships, ask: Why is it that I repeatedly surround myself with people who are not kind or honest and do not align with the type of people I want to be associated with? Be as honest as you can with yourself even if it is not easy. I promise that being honest with yourself and answering these questions will only bring you closer to making yourself a priority.
Step 4: Ask yourself: What is it that will make me happy?
Do you ever ask yourself what makes you happy? Continue by asking yourself, what is it that I need to do to get myself there?
We all get very busy and there’s always more and more to do as if we all live on autopilot, and before you know it, months go by and years go by and many of us don’t take the time to ask ourselves what makes us happy. I know that life is crazy and many of us have no choice but to work for as many hours as we can and to push hard to get things done, but sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes or an hour for you to invest in yourself, your well-being, your physical and mental health, or anything related to YOU.
Step 5: Write down five things that you want to do more of.
If this is something that you do every year, don’t give up. Do it again this year with a positive attitude and good intentions. What are five things you want to achieve in the next few months? This is not just about what makes you happy, but these are your own personal goals that you want to achieve. Then think about what you need to do to achieve these goals. Let’s just assume that you want to learn how to cook and because you are so busy you never took cooking lessons. How can you plan with small steps to achieve this goal and be realistic about it?
Often, making yourself a priority isn’t easy and maybe it includes sharing with a close friend or relative who can help you see what it is that you really want more clearly. I did not get here on my own! If you’re looking for help, it can never hurt to reach out.