Make YOU your no.1 priority NOW

Is making you your no.1 priority selfish? Some may have you believe that is true. In this blog I explain why it is essential. Read on to discover 3 ways you can make this change.

Make YOU your no.1 priority NOW

Is making you your no.1 priority selfish? Some may have you believe that is true. In this blog I explain why it is essential. Read on to discover 3 ways you can make this change.

Why being your own priority feels selfish

When you have responsibilities in life, it is easy to put them first. It’s easy to think you are doing the right thing by giving all of your time and attention to everybody and everything else. 

When you do finally get round to addressing your own priorities, you end up too tired or pushing it out of the way to do something else, as another priority has come up.

It’s as if you are here to serve others, continually in the hamster wheel of your life, making sure everything and everyone else is performing around you. Doing that feels like you are performing too.

But….you still have a list as long as your arm of the things that you want to do (like go through your wardrobe, sort the pile of books by your bed, contact that friend you haven’t seen for ages, use that voucher, or even a small thing like treating yourself to a bath).

Anything you want to do for yourself, to put you as your no.1 priority, appears to deliver no benefit to anyone else. It warrants no thank you, no praise for doing a good job, nothing that anyone else can see or appreciate.

It feels like a waste of time.

It feels selfish.

When you always put other people and other things first, and they don’t notice or appreciate what you are doing / have done, it can leave you wondering what you have to do to get it. 

Like you have to try harder to make them notice. More effort is put in to stand out. You climb higher and higher up the ‘look at me’ ladder, getting more and more tired as a result.

Make you your no.1 priority now - climbing the 'look at me' ladder

The benefit of being your no.1 priority

I have to start with a phrase you hear on an aeroplane during the safety briefing. I will emphasise the word safety here. Safety, to me and probably a lot of people, means essential to maintain life and prevent danger.

Essential to maintain life and prevent danger.

ESSENTIAL.

‘Place your own oxygen mask over your face before assisting others’.

You must put yourself before others.

BEFORE.

Using this as the most literal of examples, the message I hear, loud and clear, is that in order to help others, I need to help myself first. I need that oxygen to help me to perform for others.

In this ‘lesson’, I see oxygen as my priorities, my wants and my desires. I see me being my own priority. I see why making me my no.1 priority gives me life. Why it keeps the blood pumping through my veins and can make my heart race with excitement.

The other saying that is highly pertinent here is ‘You cannot serve from an empty cup’. Meaning, if you are tiring yourself out climbing that ‘look at me ladder’, you are slowly dimming your own light. The glow you get from the praise and appreciation of others dulls. The energy and passion you started with begins to run dry. It empties.

Like a car without fuel, you come to a juddering stop.

Unless more fuel is added (the cup is refilled) you have no energy and passion to drive on again.

It is therefore ESSENTIAL that you make you a priority BEFORE anyone or anything else.

Make YOU your no.1 priority - you cannot pour from an empty cup

Ways to ensure you are your no.1 priority 

First and foremost, this is not an invitation to become completely irresponsible, abandon everything and run for the happy hills (although how freeing would that be?!).

We are not taking away the fact that we all have responsibilities. 

We ARE re-prioritising the priorities.

3 ways (and there are heaps more) you can make you your no.1 priority are:

  1. Make your first cup of tea / drink of the day a mindful drink.

When you make the drink, focus on the process of making it, focus on the here and now. Observe how your hands move and create that beverage. Allow the focus to quieten your mind, slow your breathing and block out everything else. 

Give yourself permission to step out of the world for those few minutes of freedom and escape. When the drink is made, sit still and enjoy it. Take time whilst enjoying that drink to look at something in nature (a plant, an animal, the sky) and allow the simple existence of that element to give you peace, to ground you. 

When you are calm and peaceful, think of two things that you are grateful for at that moment. It may be the drink and the peace. It may be other things. Then move your thoughts to your day, think of it calmly and on a high level. Do this from your peaceful grounded place. A safe, happy, thankful place. 

Know that you can take yourself back to this place anytime you want. And that it can take only minutes to perform. But the rejuvenation it delivers brings a long lasting benefit.

Take a ‘time out tea break’ and see for yourself.

  1. Make 30 minutes at the start of the day for you.

Whether this means getting up earlier, or moving your schedule around, an extra 30 minutes in your day, at the start, puts you first. You become your no.1 priority instantly.

What you do with these 30 minutes is entirely up to you. It does not include the time out tea break, but it could follow on from it. 

What you must do is not allow any distractions during that time. Ignore notifications, switch your phone and devices to ‘do not disturb’.

You could simply sit still in the quiet and enjoy the break. You could go for a walk, do some exercise, read, write, learn, create.

It is your time, for you, no one else. 

Make it count.

  1. Allow one breath space before you react

Many times in life (or even the day!), we can get angry, upset or frustrated because someone else has or has not reacted in our favour or how we expected.

We all do it. The most common cause for me is when driving. If someone doesn’t wave a ‘thank you’ or they take a chance of scooting past me in a quick move that feels dangerous or rude. I can let it affect my emotions, my inner thoughts and my mood.

Until someone shared with me the idea that I should consider that the other driver may have other things on their mind, they may be worrying about a loved one who is poorly, something they have to face during their day or even simply in a day dream.  

None of how they are behaving is controllable by me, and therefore it should not affect me.

By taking that one breath space, it gives a moment of pause to reflect on this fact. Who knows why the other person has not done what I expected. It does not take away the fact that I was doing what I believed to be right, good and proper. I am good, I am safe and I am happy. I can pat myself on the back. I can recentre my own state on that foundation.

Taking that pause can defuse your own flare up in emotions and can also have a similar affect on anyone else who is involved in that situation. Many a time I have visibly witnessed someone take a deep breath that can reset the mood of everyone. Like an unspoken ‘ok, let’s calm down and work this through’.

Allow that pause, that return to your inner equilibrium, and see how powerful your own centre of gravity can be.

How I have changed my day to make me my no.1 priority

In 2011, I was taking a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt course via the company I worked for. No this is not a martial art, but a business improvement process (to get us all on the same page). Part of the course was related to teamwork and the roles individuals perform within those teams. 

We can all appreciate that everyone has their own skill set, preferences and values. This is what makes us individual and unique. There are similarities that can invoke amazing connections and results, but ultimately we are unique.

This particular course used Colour Insights as an assessment and of course there were lots of questions that mapped out a ‘this is you’ in the form of a report.

The report basically said I was someone who always put others first and myself last. I was the person I used as my reference at the start of this blog. Performing for others, needing their thanks/recognition, like a little puppy dog retrieving a ball. I needed a pay on the head.

The part that broke me to tears was that I did not value myself enough to make me my no.1 priority.

It kicked me in the gut hard and affected me very dramatically.

Since that day, I have learned to ‘do me first’. To allow myself that time first thing in the day for me.

Whilst I would say it came as a change in routine, I will also share it has been a change in mindset. It centres me, allows me to do what I want first (even if it is not as much as I would like) but that reward of making me my no. 1 priority boosts me. It means I am happy at the start.

I now know I do not have to earn time to myself or think of it as a treat. It is the most ESSENTIAL part of my day.

I have used the time to read, exercise, walk while listening to a podcast / course, learning, writing, creating, meditating and so much more.

Admittedly I will take more than 30 minutes to do this, but it ensures that I never serve from an empty cup. I am my no.1 priority every day.

Conclusion

Start to think and feel like you are your own no.1 priority now. Wear that ‘I do me first’ badge of honour. Allow the energy, passion and drive it gives you to shine through your whole day.

This can be applied not only to your personal life but your work life too. By injecting that small amount of time at the start of each day to ground yourself, you can serve those around you more wholly. Leaders in particular benefit from this, as this article from Forbes suggests.

Share with me here how you have started to shine brighter as a result.

You now have the power to sparkle every day……

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