How To Make Yourself A Priority

How many times in the last week have you put others before yourself?

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If you’re the sort of person who likes to give of themselves (your time, your energy, resources, words of comfort, etc.), your giving nature may be tipping your wellbeing balance over the edge, resulting in overwhelm.

Don't get me wrong, I think the world always needs people to give, and it's one of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing (NEF Research). But when we're dealing with increased levels of challenge, the 'givers' tend to give more. It gives us a buzz, right? But we still need to find time for ourselves. By giving to ourselves we lead by example, as well as restore some energy to continue to give to others.

I'm not saying you need to say ‘no’ to people who ask for help. (Have you tried "I can't give you 5 minutes right now, but let me finish this and I'll give you 10 / 15 / 30 minutes later."?)

And this isn't about adopting a 'Me, Me, Me!' attitude that feels selfish.

Instead I'd like to suggest 2 approaches for helping to make yourself a priority, then tell you which is my favourite and why.

#1: Choose from a list of tips - finding the 'best fit' ones for you.

A few examples include:

  • Write a list of things you love to do for yourself, then block out some time each day (or week) to do them
  • Have a morning or evening routine (or both!) where you spend quiet time reflecting or writing your thoughts in a journal
  • Set a 1 minute timer on your desk (or somewhere you’ll not be disturbed), close your eyes, focus on your breath, and just count your breaths for 1 minute
  • Ask yourself - What have I done for me today? If nothing, make sure you spend time tomorrow doing something you can call your own

I'm sure you can add to this list with others you've used before or seen, including on this Life Labs site.

Tips are good. They can get you started. But #2 is my favourite ...

#2: Identify what 'Make Myself a Priority' means for YOU right now

... And then ask yourself: "What can I do today / this week to make myself a priority?"

I like this because it's a very 'coachy' approach. It encourages us to find our own answers. As a result , I believe this option is more likely to have a lasting impact. It’s individual to us, no-one else.

Whilst the first option gives you some ideas to try ... they can be short-lived. They aren't your ideas; although they're good starting points.

I believe:

  • YOU know what's best for you right now
  • YOU can decide how long you can spend on prioritising yourself, and what's realistic
  • YOU can take responsibility for your choices and decisions, and celebrate what you achieve!

Let's face it, we can all find excuses not to put ourselves first. But at what cost?

So ...

  • Which of the 2 approaches above do you prefer?
  • What have you done for yourself lately?
  • What do you intend to do in the coming week / month?

Debbie Inglis

Resilience Coach, Square Two Development Ltd

Having spent 16 years in the education sector, I left suffering from burnout. Looking for another career - coaching ticked all my boxes. At the time it was still a growing industry and I was one of the first to gain a PGCert in Life & Business Coaching (Derby University). I'm now on a mission to help prevent school leaders and teachers leaving the profession because of overwhelm, illness & disillusionment. Loving the huge benefits of having coaching skills to support others, for the last 10 years I've been sharing that by training school leaders, teachers and managers in the private sector in coaching skills. My 4-day course is accredited by the ILM (Level 5) and the CPD Standards Office. Following overcoming a series of personal challenges, I've become interested in mental toughness and resilience, and the strategies you can use to manage and overcome life's challenges. In 2015 I became licensed to deliver 3 Mental Toughness online assessments (for adults and young people), and now use this as a support for identifying coaching goals, building leadership resilience and delivering Mental Toughness & Resilience training. With a mission to support the coaching industry, and facilitate the development of other coaches, I've led a Coaches CPD group in the East Midlands since 2011, and I'm also a Coach Supervisor. Connect with me if you'd like to chat about any of the above. Best wishes, Debbie