A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao-tzu
Ten years ago I was a control freak perfectionist workaholic! I worked 16 hour days, every day. One day, I found myself siting in my car in the parkade and crying. I was tired, sooo tired!
Right then and there, I made a decision to change my life. I decided that I needed to take care of me! I decided to take back control of my life and start down a plan that focuses on creating a life that I am madly in love with! I started this journey by learning self love and self care.
It wasn’t easy and it took time, but today I can say that my life has changed 180 degrees. I make decisions everyday that lead me further down the path of self love and self care.
I believe 150% that all growth comes from finding yourself first and you can only do that when you can take care of yourself!
Often people comment on my life and ask how I did it… but many many immediately become defensive and start to list off excuses for why they can’t make these changes in their life…. do you find yourself feeling the same way?
Myth: This makes me feel too selfish!
Truth: If you don’t take care of you, who will?
It is human nature to take care of others first; normally it is our immediate or extended families. It is survival right, taking care of our offspring, making sure that humanity survives the big bad world. Okay back to reality now, in North America we don’t have to worry that much about surviving. We can find shelter, food, and clothes those most basic survival needs. So we can move past the “survival of fittest” and work on self-care.
What would your family do, they are expecting you to take care of things, they are expecting you to cook, clean, do laundry, mend their bodies, help them feel better, get them over heart breaks and problems.
Ask yourself this… what would your family do if you died of a heart attack? Who would fix them then?
They would mourn and miss you, sure! You are a great person, well liked and dearly loved. But they would pick up their lives and move on. They would grow up and grow old, whether you are there or not. Wouldn’t you like to be there?
- What exactly have you done for yourself lately?
- How do you take care of yourself?
- How do you acknowledge yourself?
You are waiting for other people to do these things for you? Why, because you don’t deserve it, you are unworthy of it.
Wrong, you do deserve and are very worthy of some Extreme Self Care! This will be the turning point in your life!
There are many things that you can change about your life: jobs, careers, husbands/significant other, cities, countries, houses, cars… But does changing any or all of these things accomplish the feeling you are looking for? And if you make changes and do NOT change how you are taking care of yourself, does it really impact your life?
Things might change for a while, but they return you right back to the same space unless you decide to change yourself. Changing how you treat the most important person in your life … YOU! Then and only then will things flow together and begin to feel like what you are looking for.
Myth: My Family doesn’t understand me!
Truth: Do you know how to ask for what you need?
It is not that you family doesn’t understand you…. It is that you have let them walk all over you, of course not intentionally. You didn’t know better, they didn’t know better. The generation pervious to us, grew up and learned how to live based on the “Leave it to Beaver” family. The Wife stayed home, her whole existence was to be a good wife and mother. The Husband went off to work at 7am and came home at 5pm for dinner.
Today we live in a completely different environment. It is not easy to support a family on just one income and we are working harder and longer hours just to stay keep our head above water.
Now I believe that these strong values of taking care of our value are still very, very important. I believe that we adapt to what we need to get this task done.
Taking into consideration that we are ‘doing what must be done’ to make sure things are taken care of, what steps have you taken to let your family know what you need. It is easy!
- Talk to your significant other and family
- Ask for what you need
- Your family says sure, they would be happy to help that’s what families do
You know what the hardest part of all of this is…. Figuring out what it is that you need.
You may want to take a couple of minutes and just get really clear on what it is that you want to create for yourself. Sit down and really visualize as if you were right in the middle of your perfect day.
The next important step is put into words that feeling you are looking for. I recommend reading this over every week or so and updating it. As you start working through the steps you will start to see new improved visions and feelings. You will be able to be clearer and clearer of what you are looking to feel.
- The goal I want to achieve is:
- The reason I want to achieve this goal is:
- My life would change in the following manner if I achieved my goal:
- I would be happier if I achieved my goal because:
Maybe you have a very simple goal; maybe you just need to spend 30 minutes a day in peace and quiet. What you would like is when you get home, there is a space to be created for 30 minutes so that you can let go of things at the office and be fully present and enjoy your time with your family.
So let’s try that discussion again.
- Call a family meeting – just let them know you have something you want to run past them
- Ask them what for what you need – I would like it if for 30 minutes after I get home from work, that I can spend time alone in my office/bedroom, I just feel that I want to be able to switch gears from work and then I can spend better quality time with you because I am not worrying about things at the office.
- Your family says sure – well of course they do, your family loves you, they just didn’t know that you needed the time.
There is one catch to this though. You actually need to do it. Use your 30 minutes, meditate, exercise, read, BUT leave work at work and truly be fully present with your family. If they can see that nothing has changed, then they will not accept your boundaries.
Myth: I don’t have the time!
Truth: Creating organization gives you the time.
Sure you can keep avoiding this for the rest of your life, or you can make the time.
Daily habits or rituals will help you organize your time. How much time do you spend looking for your bills at the end of the month? How much time do you spend on Saturday on doing laundry?
Now I have made a conscious effort to get up 30 minutes early so that I have time to myself in the mornings, to me the effort to get up is very little compared to the enormous benefits I get from having my day completely organized.
Here is My Nourishing Getup Ritual – Nourishing to your soul and body.
Some simple things that help, pick an alarm clock that has a nice sound or use the radio so that you wake up to music. I give myself a few extra minutes in the morning, this allows me to wake up and stretch my way awake, without feeling the rush, rush of the day. I have made it a practice to get up with enough time to get myself up, showered and ready before it was necessary to get the kids up.
My morning goes something like this, I spend about 15 minutes lying in bed just letting myself wake up and stretching, you know like cats. I head for the shower, lots of time and lots of hot water, in our house that is definitely a consideration.
Now I have some quiet time, to plan my day, or write in my journal. I do this one in silence, no music, no people and no TV.
It is a very relaxing way to start the day. Now you are saying “just how am I going to do that?” or “My little ones wake up too early to do that”, you’re right, your life is not exactly that same as mine, but anything is possible, you just have to make the decision to do it.
The point is start something… even if the only thing you do is wake up 15 minutes early and drink your water/juice in silence while you are writing your “To Do” list for the day. And for gosh sake, have a proper breakfast, your body has just spent the last 6 or 8 hours with no incoming food. Now is the time. It is important and matters, because you are important!
But really you don’t even need to go this far. It can be super simple, like laundry. When you leave your bedroom in the morning, you bring the laundry basket with you. Then as you are walking out the door, you turn on the washing machine. It washes while you are at work. When you get home, throw the laundry in the dryer, by the time dinner is cooked and eaten, you can put the laundry away. While you might not be able to do this with every load, kids clothes, towels, bedding all could be easily done, with no extra time on your part.
Myth: If I can’t do it correctly, I don’t do it at all!
Truth: Simple Changes make a big difference.
There are some people (me included) that has some trouble with this. You may be a control freak or a perfectionist, either way you have placed on yourself these enormous expectations. You have being doing it for as long as you can remember and you probably have no clue about where to even begin to stop.
But you can stop and you can move on from here.
Second: Breathe again
Third: Pick just one thing to change
It is not possible to change everything in one day, one week or one year even, this is a process, a journey to create a better you.
Now what did you pick? Maybe you picked setting some boundaries at work. You have decided that you would like to work only 8 hours a day rather than 16. What are the actions you need to do this? Let me tell you about the actions I took to do this.
1. I hired people around me that could take on some of my redundant tasks, not as easy it sounds; sometimes you go through some stress. One giving up that particular area, two maybe the person you hired or delegated to just can’t figure out the task. It can be done though patience.
2. I started to say no to taking on additional tasks, I would simple say that I was loaded right now, but they could check back in 3 months or I would recommend a ‘up and comer’ who had promise. I could let go of the task and help another show their potential.
The trick is really to get organized. How many of your tasks can you have automated? How things can you create templates for? How many things can you delegate?
The next trick let go of them. Think of it in terms of mentoring, you are mentoring the people around you to grow their careers and show their potential. You don’t need to do it all.
With all these things in place you will find that naturally you just don’t even need to be at work as much. And all the things that you used to do are still getting done. There is one last thing….
Sometimes, you just need to shut off the light and leave the office. Maybe you didn’t get something completed that is fine it will be there tomorrow. But your wife or husband might not be, your kids are another day older, your parents are another day older. If tomorrow never came, what would you say to your family? Go say it now!
It starts with just one baby step, one simple little thing, like delegating those reports.
Myth: I know ALL of this, I have tired and I failed!
Truth: Knowing is one thing, taking ACTION is totally different.
I am not one to dwell on the negative or the failures. Great you tired and failed before, that means one less way to try it. Now is the time to try something new. This one is for you! After reading many books and websites I noticed that there is always a specific person they are talking to, I mean it makes sense, there is no way to talk to everyone.
There are some many different people, places, environments, no one person can possible reach everyone. From my brief history you read at the beginning, you can see, I am just an everyday woman, with everyday problems and challenges like you.
I would never drink my water out of a crystal wine glass, a nice thought, but not at all particle with 4 teenagers and 6 cats running around the house. I am not the kind of woman that appreciates manicured nails, what will they look like after 5 minutes in the garden. I am not going to tell you something that I haven’t already tired and succeeded at. I believe the Extreme Simplicity as just as important as Extreme Self Care.
If the action isn’t easy, I just won’t do it. Life can be complicated and it can offer up some unbelievable challenges. Actions need to be very simple in order to be successful. Now that you know just how simple it really can be, you most certainly can pick yourself up and try again.
Now is the time to take action! One action, one simple step on the journey to Extreme Self Care. Success doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s about doing the little things every day. Each week, focus on making one change.
Once you get it down, focus on something else. If you improve just one thing every week, imagine the change you’ll see over the next five years.
Did you hear yourself in some of these excuses? did they make you feel uncomfortable? Great! Now you have a great starting point. Now you can make the decision to take back control and you can choose each and every day to focus on self love and self care.
Take your first simple step today!
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Photo Credit: by massimo ankor