Our time doesn’t always feel like it belongs to us. We feel like our time is shared with others who have needs, wants, and requests of their own.
The truth, however, is that we all have the same 24 hours. If someone asks you to do something, he’s taking that out of his 24 hours and putting it in yours. Does it make sense? Are you the best person to do it? Have you built the kind of relationship to justify it?
We need to extend that thinking to our own time, too. “Self-care” has become a buzzword, but it’s not just referring to massages or bubble baths — it can also mean dropping out of a committee so you have time to exercise. It can be as simple as ditching your daily Netflix habit and working on your long-awaited side hustle instead.
To do any of that, however, you have to learn to value yourself so others will, too.
Learn to love yourself.
This doesn’t mean being narcissistic. It means building your self-worth and recognizing how valuable you are. It’s about being comfortable with who you are, faults and all, and striving to become the best person you can be. That sometimes goes against what others want from you.
Bucking external needs and feeding the internal is easier said than done. Here are some of my favorite ways to start being kind to yourself:
- Pat yourself on the back. We’re quick to recognize others’ achievements. But when’s the last time you gave yourself a compliment?
- Silence your inner critic. Allow your inner advocate to speak up. Look at what’s gotten you to where you are now.
- Give yourself a break. We all make mistakes; don’t beat yourself up. Being self-employed is hard. Take the lesson within the mistake—don’t get stuck in failure mode. Trust yourself. Stop second-guessing yourself; believe you’re making the right decision. We often get stuck in “analysis paralysis” because we’re worried about how others will react.
- Follow your passions. When you respect yourself, you don’t give up on your dreams. You realize they’re more than just fantasies—they’re representative of how you want to spend the time you have.
- Remind yourself of your strengths and qualities. We all have unique strengths and desirable qualities. Highlight those instead of being consumed by your weaknesses. Recognize those weaknesses and accept them, but don’t treat them as the final say.
- Take care of your health. Don’t neglect your health. Exercise, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep.
- Stop trying to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. What one person sees as “perfect” gets a “meh” from someone else. Do your best rather than chase the unattainable.
Make self-care a priority.
Being kind to yourself means making self-care a priority. Carve out time to tend to your own well-being.
The problem is that we often don’t make self-care a priority. Instead, we work 12 hours a day. We take on other people’s responsibilities. We rush from meeting to meeting. When we finally put our feet up, we’d rather just veg out on the couch.
Write down the things that make you happy and rejuvenated. Next, separate the list into things you can do daily, like meditating, and things you do monthly, such as going camping with your family. It’s a simple way to find small acts of daily self-care. Schedule that self-care in your calendar like an appointment.
Treat yourself. This doesn’t mean maxing out a credit card or emptying your bank account. Occasionally, however, you just need to pamper yourself a little, like saving up for a luxurious vacation or spending a day at a spa.
Likewise, don’t overdo it. Self-care shouldn’t be something that stresses you out. Maybe you’d planned to go for a walk during sunset, but you’re exhausted. It’s OK to say “no” to something that won’t fuel you.
Seek others’ help.
“Big Potential—the real extent of what we can achieve—requires the help of others,” Shawn Achor wrote in a previous SUCCESS article. “It relies on a virtuous cycle, an upward spiral of potential whereby with each success, you garner more resources, which in turn, allows you to achieve greater and greater successes.”
Achor adds, ”The people around you can be your resources. And you can be their resource, too, continuing the cycle.”
It takes courage to ask for help. Maybe you believe asking for help is a sign of weakness. Perhaps you don’t want to hear someone’s honest feedback. You might just not know where to start and are paralyzed by feeling overwhelmed.
The easiest place to start is by reaching out to your existing network: your family, friends, or colleagues. If these aren’t good resources, hire a coach or find a mentor. Read a self-help book. Watch an inspiring TED Talk. Post questions in chat rooms or forums.
If you want to reach your full potential, you’re going to need others’ help. You can’t be self-taught at everything (and that kind of pressure isn’t good self-care). People aren’t there to criticize you or waste your time. They’ll guide you to becoming a better person.
Enjoy each and every moment.
With so much swirling around us, we rarely stop what we’re doing to enjoy the moment—even if we’re doing something we love.
The other night, I went for a walk before dinner. I was lost in my own world, reflecting on the day and mentally preparing for tomorrow. Without warning, I stopped and stared at the sunset. It was so stunning that I just stood there, enjoying its splendor. It sounds ridiculous, but in that moment, I was grateful to be alive.
Researchers have found that those who “stop and smell the roses” are happier and have higher levels of life satisfaction. It might just be the best use of your time.
Treating yourself well shows that you value not just what you do with your time, but also who you become as a result of it.