Q36: Why Do I Always Put My Own Self-Care Last?

Without you, your business is nothing. So your top priority always is looking after you because you are both your business’s finest asset and its worst liability. When anything threatens your health and well-being, you cannot work and your income dries up or your business comes under threat in other ways.

This is called self-care, and because we are so poor at prioritising it we need to think of it as Extreme or Radical. We need always to focus on it first and foremost and what we tend to do is leave it to last. If there are a few moments left for us at the end of the week we are lucky and tend to collapse on the sofa with a glass of wine. This probably isn’t the solution we are looking for!

Successful people do it first. They do prioritise it. Consequently, their outcomes in their business and their work reflect this.

So let’s work out how that might go for you.

First of all, we need to work out what are your non-negotiables when it comes to getting some tiger in the tank.

For me, it would be…lots and lots of peace and quiet and alone time. Plenty of good quality sleep. Enough top-notch input in terms of reading and watching to stimulate my creativity and inspire me, and the complete avoidance of all dramatic and annoying people. The removal of the wrong people is always top of my list and something I police religiously. Ah, and I remember… NO TELEPHONES! I don’t do phones because they are noisy and they interrupt my peace and solitude at the agenda of the caller. Skype or Zoom or Webex by appointment or permission, that’s me.

You see how easy it is to choose and regulate what helps you to feel happy and which keeps you in the zone?

For most of my clients, this would involve some form appreciation of the great outdoors, and perhaps exercise too even if only walking the dog or taking the kids to school on foot and collecting them later in the same way. I cannot think of a single problem which isn’t solved in the short term at least by either physical exercise or deep breathing, and physical exercise has the same effect of oxygenating us in a way which tends to see the bad shiz be gone rather efficiently.

Step away from the computer. Get a life.

Pursue your hobbies and interests, however bonkers. In fact, the more bonkers the better here because we tend not to be able to help the things we love, we are just inexplicably drawn towards them. I had a lovely time the summer before last doing some of that adult colouring and I am thinking of taking it up again, I slightly miss it. I am a colourful person and it brought more colour and more relaxation into my life in a double-whammy.

I find swimming and showers, anything in water to be both restful and creatively stimulating. Lots of genius ideas come to me when I am in or near water.

Many swear by running and the gym.

You could do worse than look up Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning process and although I don’t know anyone who started it who has kept it up, I certainly do not rule it out. His prescription is SAVERS – for Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribing.

Daily journaling or Morning Pages, they’re ace. Morning Pages come from a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way. I never finished the book. Morning Pages were all I needed to learn about, but you may find the entire book useful for your creative biz too.

These days I like to go for a drive to get myself into a trance. I’ve always loved driving and now I find it oddly therapeutic. That’s how I came up with the idea for this book!

What else? Oh yes, meditating of course. Pilates and Yoga.

And music is a real mood changer and vibe raiser, as is a Skype call with me for many of my clients.

Now, look… don’t be a muppet with this. You don’t have to do all of these and, no doubt, I’ve left your favourites off this list. Make your own list and keep it in a place where you can see it easily in your home office. Refer to it daily and find a way to do a couple of the items on it or as many as you can, and do it first.

Make a habit of one or two and stick to them without fail. Do not let even hell or high water come between you and your weekly choir practice, or whatever’s your bag.

Look for the things that make you feel good and do a whole lot more of them.

Remember what Gandhi is reputed to have said. On a busy day, double the dose. When you are feeling low, do more of it. And when you don’t feel up to working, leave your desk and go and do some of the things on your self-care reminder list, or absolutely nothing at all. I find a nap to be uniquely restorative. Everything feels better when I am well rested.

You might also incorporate some affirmations and woo-woo into your daily routine. Gratitude for starters. There’s a real game-changer for you and, even if that’s all you do, your life will metamorphose and you’ll never slide back for as long as you keep up the daily practice.

That’s the key. You are making and keeping and committing to a daily practice. Don’t overdo it. Pick the thing that if you just get it done every day makes everything else go with a swing. And if the only time for you to do it is before everyone else gets up in the morning, make that unbreakable commitment to yourself.

Build in buffer zones. If you are travelling, work out how much time you need before and after to prepare and recover. My clients endlessly underestimate the toll that travelling through many time zones has on our bodies. I do not. Once bitten, twice shy.

This is your job and only yours, to put the oxygen mask on. And put it on first. Then everything just flows and, when and if it doesn’t, you can manage and cope for the duration because you have plenty of stores of feel-good to get you through.

There is a Zen quote (see mention of Gandhi above) that goes something like “Meditate for an hour every day unless you are too busy. In that case, meditate for two hours.”
In summary, your job is to find a daily spiritual or secular practice, any practice that makes you feel good.

  1. Do it every day without fail.
  2. When under pressure double your efforts.

You are SO going to thank me for this one. It only makes EVERYTHING work. When my clients do it, their results are outstanding. When they come, apparently having fallen out of their zone of genius, I ask what’s happened with the daily routine and the answer is they stopped doing it because it was working! Doh.

Notes:

  • Find your daily practice of self-care. What will it be? What prescription will you write yourself?
  • Keep adjusting until you find the thing which as long as you do it every day allows everything else to just flow.
  • Never stop doing it.
  • When you notice life has turned to pants, did you stop doing the thing? I told you… NEVER stop doing it! What are you like?

Your Biz Your Way

If you have enjoyed reading my words here, you might also enjoy my book - Your Biz Your Way: Learning to Trust Yourself. Relax! You've Got This. Get a chunky free sample and/or buy the book here Read My Book

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