Whose life are you living? Are you putting yourself last?
On aircrafts, the safety instructions always say for parents to put on their own mask before their children’s. In other words, you’ll be in a better position to help them if you look after yourself first.
The same goes for our daily life. When we put others before ourselves, we are not doing anyone any favours. This could be kids, parents, partners, friends or work. We end up tired and frustrated because we are not looking after our own needs or desires. They suffer because they are with someone who is often not happy, healthy or fulfilled.
The scales of time
“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”Albert Einstein
We all know what it’s like to have conflicting demands on our time. Work, relationships, spirituality, personal development and health pull us in all directions.
Choices are made on values. Do you know your own values? What’s important to you? Does the way you spend your time have a negative effect on other areas? Are you really conscious of how you spend your time?
How do you spend your day?
Here’s a useful exercise I sometimes use to help me see where my time goes in a typical week. I create a 7-day planner divided into half hour blocks. Each night, I mark what I did in each time block. I then use the time management quadrant to help me rate the importance and urgency of each task. The categories are:
2. Not urgent/important
3. Urgent/not important
4. Not urgent/not important*
Looking back over my week, I can see if I’ve been spending enough time on the things that are important to me or if I’ve been wasting my time on things that don’t matter so much.
Bring back the balance
Work out what’s important to you
What drives you? What are your likes and dislikes? What would you miss the most in your life if it suddenly wasn’t there?
If you had no restrictions or obligations and could do anything you wanted for the next month, what would you do? Maybe you’d go on holiday, curl up with your favourite books or learn a new skill? Allow yourself some time to reflect on this. You might even be surprised with your answer.
Look after your health
Nobody deliberately sets out to be unhealthy. Sometimes we develop health conditions for no apparent reason but sometimes we unconsciously allow ourselves to become unhealthy because of the choices we make. We forget that we need to look after ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally to get the most out of life. Even if you have an impairment of some sort, you can still aim to be as well as possible each day.
Learn to say ‘no’
Nobody wants to let their friends, family or workmates down, but sometimes their expectations of you can be unreasonable and cause you unnecessary angst. When you don’t set boundaries, others won’t know what they are. It’s up to you to work out what you find acceptable. For example, don’t take on extra work if you can’t do it justice. Be polite, firm and consistent. Others will learn to respect you for it.
Spend time with those you love
There is no quota for the time you should spend with your family and friends. What does matter is when you are with them, you are focused on being with them, not just watching TV together or playing games on your phone. Listen to them. Show genuine interest in the things they do and above all, have fun together.
Reconnect with your spiritual self
Your spiritual self is whatever you believe it to be. Meditate, go to church, donate your time in the community. Do what feels right for you. Spend time doing things that ground you and connect you to your community and the global community. This is the area that many people spend the least amount of time on which is why they struggle to find balance in their life.
What areas of your life are out of balance? Give yourself permission to start making small changes now and you will soon start to feel calmer, more focused and you’ll probably be more enjoyable to be around, too.
Call to action…
Often, the most successful people are those who recognise that their life is out of balance and decide to do something about it. Marcus Pearce, CEO of The Wellness Couch podcast network and founder of the Exceptional Life Blueprint – an 8-step process to creating a magnificent life, is an inspiring example. In his podcast interview on The Mentor List, Marcus tells his story and shares his thought on why ‘niching’ your life can be disastrous. Marcus now helps others to find balance in their lives through his podcasts, videos and programs.
Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au
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* Covey S R, 1989, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Free Press, New York.