Why it’s not selfish to make time for yourself

If you think of your energy like a resource, if you are constantly giving out, eventually it will deplete.  Maybe not straight away but the continual pattern of giving out more than you get back will eventually take its toll.  This can be manifest in exhaustion, illness, sadness, depression, the only person who can make time for you is you.

Making time for others, doing things for others, cooking food, doing dishes, driving ‘mum’s taxi service’, generally being there for kids and partners, is part of the daily routine for many. For business owners and entrepreneurs, it is this, and more, you are developing your business, managing staff, an ever-growing task list and try to be there for your clients. It is very easy to forget about you, not make yourself a priority and put others needs first.

Then if you do take time for yourself there is often associated guilt, “I should be spending time/doing things for my family, or working on my business” which eats away at any leisure time you might have.

You may also find yourself feeling as if others are judging you.  What will other people think if I’m out taking time for spa treatments, exercise, wellness activities, even just out for a coffee, walk, sitting in the sunshine. We often waste our down time by feeling like we should be doing something else.

The truth is, you are the only one who can give yourself time.

Don’t waste your ‘me time’ by worrying about what you ‘should’ be doing, or what others are doing or thinking of you. It is highly likely, no one is thinking of you at all!

When my daughter was younger, I often struggled with this, making time for me was difficult. I also had to negotiate time with a partner who was not supportive of me taking time out, even though I was a busy mum raising our child and had a demanding business schedule too. Making time for me took planning and a lot of negotiation.  It shouldn’t have been that hard. We are no longer together, and one of the issues throughout the relationship was that he didn’t consider me a priority.  Since separating several years ago, I have done a lot of work through a range of therapies, a lot of soul searching, including changes in business direction too.  It became apparent to me that I was always doing things for others, I never made myself a priority.  If I look back on the marriage and that pattern of behaviour, I was not making myself a priority, this was a ‘light bulb’ moment, if I wasn’t making myself a priority – then how could I expect others to make me one?  This was a major shifting point for me.  I realised that the best example I could set for my beautiful daughter was to be a happy person who knew how to look after herself.  I was always very independent, good with finance, very capable on so many levels, but I had not been looking after my emotional wellbeing in a nurturing way.  I had been pushing ahead and making it all work, and from the outside I looked very successful. A seven-figure business, I was in demand to speak at industry conferences, had won industry awards, and had a happy family – to the observer, it looked like I had it all. But the reality was, I wasn’t happy, it was time to sit still and take stock.  In one of the workshops that I present now, we talk about core values and how to integrate those into your decision making.  The process we follow is always making decisions for YOU first. Ask yourself is this okay with me?  Then consider how does it affect others. If it is not okay with you then it’s not okay.  Learning to say no, in this considered way is very empowering.

I now share this with my clients through my mentoring programs and workshops. Less is more, is definitely one of the keys to success.  Because, a lot of what we spend time on isn’t productive, the things we worry about are often not that important.  Some of the best business ideas, or solutions to challenges, come to me when I am ‘doing’ nothing. I am sure you have examples of this too, the best insights come to you, when you take the time to step away.

How do you find more time for you?  I don’t suggest for you to add things to your workload.  The constant adding of ‘things’ to your list will just result in overload and overwhelm and eventual burn out.  Start by saying no to things that don’t ‘serve you’. Ask yourself – is this important?  Is this something I want to do? If the answer is no, then politely, but firmly say no, you don’t need to justify why.  Here are few tips on creating change to make time for yourself.

  1. Make yourself a Priority.  Say it to yourself, say it to others – I make myself a priority. Understand that you are the only one who can do this for you. No one else is going to ‘give you time’.
  2. Plan – Saying it is one thing but action is key – do something about it!  Put it in your diary, this could be ‘me time’ or scheduling activities (wellness classes, relax time, enrol in a course – language, cooking, dancing) just for you, and make it a priority – by that I mean wherever possible not conceding that time for other appointments.
  3. Get started today – small steps can make a big difference, we can so easily find reasons as to why we don’t look after ourselves, we are too busy, too tired, life just gets in the way. Make small changes to your language (how you talk to yourself and how you talk about yourself with others), remember you are the one that gets to decide what is right for you. Make small steps to get started today.

Natalie Pickett is an serial Entrepreneur from Melbourne, Australia. She is a sought after speaker and mentor who helps people to grow their business and achieve their own best level of success.