This post was adapted from a brief talk I gave at an event a few weeks ago.
Have you ever been really cranky in a meeting because you were hungry? Have you ever skipped the gym because of work? Do you feel like you’d be lost without coffee?
Every day, we pack our to-do list full of appointments, projects, and other people’s priorities—all those things we need to take care of. Think about what you had on the agenda yesterday. Were you actually on it? We spend so much of our day helping others, but we often forget to put our own care on our list of priorities. This can majorly backfire. How so?
The health of a business is so tied in to the health of its employees—even more so when you’re a company of one. To give you a personal example, a few years ago, I found myself juggling seven different income streams and feeling totally burnt out. I didn’t feel like I was gaining any traction. I was also working every weekend so never seeing my family, seriously skimping on sleep, and overdoing the caffeine. My wake-up call came quite literally, when I fell asleep in downward dog at a yoga class.
In case you’re wondering, I fell flat on my face. I was officially out of excuses: It was time to make a change.
Letting go of what wasn’t serving the bigger picture and carving out time for myself was scary, but it turned out to be my most successful year to date. I even started sleeping more, finally started using that meditation app I’d downloaded, and cut my daily eight cups of coffee to four. I also started visiting my family every week. Something really cool happened too: I noticed my clients became more successful in meeting their goals. Plus, having more energy to bring to events helped me engage the room and connect with people in a more meaningful way.
Lately, I’ve been encouraging my clients to put their own names on their calendar. Here’s why:
Aside from supporting a better quality of life, building recharge time into our schedule helps us be better at our jobs. When we fill up our own cup, we have more to give. We can be more effective at what we do without burning out. It doesn’t have to be all deep-tissue massages and fancy meals out or whatever you might think of when you hear “self-care,” but those basic things that help us feel energized and stable so we can face whatever crazy the day has in store. For example, balanced meals, getting enough exercise, water, sleep. I even count paying my bills within a day or two of receiving them to be on my list because I hate nagging to-do list items, especially when they involve money!
So think about what self-care essentials you might need to work on. How’s your physical health? Your mental and emotional health? What’s working and what’s not? Whatever it might be, take one step in a positive direction, however big or small you like. Investing time and energy in yourself is good for your business.
Block out time for physical activity (check out this interview with Equinox CEO Niki Leondakis on the power of putting workouts on your calendar), note when you’re going to cook or prep food. Even putting your own initials in a few spots or carving out Break Time is valuable because having that visual reminder helps you see that you matter just as much as anything else on your agenda. This month I’m practicing setting aside 15 minutes of “worry” time per day to help get a handle on stuff that makes me anxious.
As an experiment this week, make an appointment with yourself—even if it’s just fifteen minutes to check in and assess how things are going. You might be surprised at what an impact scheduling yourself into your day can have.
Do you put yourself on your calendar?
This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.