“I’m all talk and no walk. I know what I should do, but I don’t.”
“I’m stressed out and in desperate need of some me time, but there is so much going on right now that it seems impossible to make time for myself.”
“In a few weeks or even a few months things will settle down and I can get back into shape, but there is just too much on the calendar currently”.
Sound familiar? Can you relate to any of this?
If you can, I have something very important to tell you, so listen up!
There is never going to be a day when you have less stress or more time to take care of yourself. There is no such thing as the “right” time or “some day”. Repeat: There is never going to be a day or a time when you have less stress or more time to take care of yourself. There is no such thing as the “right” time or “some day”.
I know I am being repetitive here but that is the point. Maybe if I say it twice it has a better chance of landing. If you can’t tell :), this is something I am pretty passionate about because I know it all too well. Back in my corporate days and before I moved to Costa Rica, I lived my entire life waiting for the right time and wishing for someday. I’d say things like this to myself:
- I’ll move to Costa Rica when the time is right.
- I’ll live on the beach someday in the future.
- I’ll pursue this dream after x and y is accomplished.
- I’ll start eating better after I get through this month of business dinners and traveling.
- I’ll really commit to my exercise program when things slow down a little at work.
But here’s the thing. This is a mind trap. These are thoughts (or beliefs) of ours that keep us stuck. When in reality, life never really slows down. There is always something else, something new, or something unexpected popping up.
The truth is our health and happiness is completely up to us. No one else has that power.
Life (read: the unexpected), your boss, your kids, your friends, your parents, or even your significant other can’t take care of your health, happiness, and fitness.
So I ask, what are you going to do about that?
How are you going to find the time to prioritize yourself, in a world where being busy and taking care of everybody else is a badge of honor?
When are you going to realize that when you are at your best mentally, physically, and emotionally you have so much more to give to your family, your work, and everyone else around you?
If you’re ready to finally give yourself permission to take care of yourself FIRST instead of last (or never), read on.. Here are 3 actions you can take right now to start prioritizing yourself.
1) Get clear on WHY you can’t schedule time in for yourself
Writing down these reasons (your beliefs) can be powerful because you are getting them out of your head and onto paper. Although this process is simple and may seem pointless at first, I promise you it is not. I find thoughts that are in my head that seem immutable, once on paper lose their hold. It becomes easy to see these thoughts for what they really are: words I tell myself over and over that influence my actions.
For example: I can’t workout today my schedule is jammed pack. OR I am traveling all week and going to have to eat out many times, so there is no way I am going to be able to eat healthy. Maybe for you: When I get home from work I’ve got to prepare food for the family as quickly as possible, no time for healthy meals.
Once these words are staring back at you on paper, your awareness changes. All of a sudden you realize:
I am pretty busy but I can find 15 minutes to get in some movement.
I can easily check out the menus of some of these restaurants before I go so I can set myself up to make a good choice.
I remember seeing that website with 15 minute meals and Saltwater Fit’s Meal Prep Strategy Guide…there are resources to help me cook quick & healthy meals.
All of the sudden: possibility enters. And you can create different thoughts, which ultimately leads to different actions.
2) Ditch the ALL or NOTHING mentality
As human beings our brains want efficiency and to exert the least amount of energy necessary, so it is quite easy for us to fall into all or nothing/black and white thinking. Our brains are processing so much information all the time that if we looked for nuance and grey areas with everything we’d never make a decision or get anything done.
There is nothing wrong with all or nothing thinking when applied correctly. In stressful, dangerous times that require quick decision making there is no need for over processing or over analyzing, having two options is probably best. But when it comes to living a fit lifestyle, or going after anything you want, it is much more useful to adopt a more nuanced, incremental approach. You actually can become more fit, shed fat, and move the needle forward on any project through small, gradual change.
If you are really freaking busy…you can start by carving out 5 minutes a day to exercise. Each day you can add 1 minute. In 30 days you’ll be up to 34 minutes of exercise. That’s a huge change over 1-month.
If you eat out numerous times a week, and always get dessert. Try eating just 1 less dessert each week. Week 1 you eat 5, Week 2 you eat 4, Week 3 you eat 3…you get the idea…
Now compare this strategy to trying right off the bat to get 30 minutes of exercise in a day or cutting out dessert completely. Those are tough asks that are hard to do. You may be able to white knuckle your way through using will power and discipline, but eventually you won’t be able to maintain. Then you’ll give up. And prove to yourself exercising and eating healthy consistently is impossible. (It actually is impossible to consistently eat healthy and exercise doing it that way 🙂, so you’re right but not helpful to your fitness goals.)
It really comes down to a bit of psychology.
You have to trick yourself into it by starting slow so it feels like you’ve used up little effort. Practicing this over and over, getting a little bit better each time, will create an new healthy habit in support of your goals. It also will change your waistline :).
The point is you don’t need to eat perfectly all the time or kill it in the gym with every workout. You only need to get a little better each day and be consistent. That creates lasting and sustainable change and help you achieve your goals, no matter what life is currently throwing at you.
3) Schedule Your Priorities
Awareness is a powerful tool. Once we realize how we are thinking it becomes easy to change things, right? But how do we ensure we actually make the time? Take a few minutes to list out your priorities. Then take a look at your calendar for the week. Do these lists match? Is the life you want to lead aligning with the life you are leading? Chances are if you are having a hard time executing, the answer is no. So what can you take off your plate that doesn’t align?
- Can you delegate it to someone else?
- Simply cancel?
- Can you ask for help?
- Can you create clearer boundaries?
At first this may feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s ok, it just means your pushing your comfort zones, which is never a bad thing. The following week make sure you schedule your priorities in first, then see how much time you have to take on other activities that may or may not align with the life you want to lead. That way you’ve insured yourself the time you need to work on what matters most to you. By creating space for yourself and actively creating the life you want, you can be a shining example to those around you inspiring and empowering them to do the same.
Will you give it a try?
I know applying these strategies will make you a total success.
Now go get after it!