Benjamin Franklin is credited for saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” He was such an interesting driven historical figure. He wanted to make his life count. He actually took data on how well he practiced 13 virtues. These were temperance (eating properly, not over-indulging in alcohol), silence (speaking when it is beneficial, avoiding idle chatter), order (everything having it’s place), resolution (following through with responsibilities without fail), frugality (waste nothing), industry (don’t waste time), sincerity (speak innocently and justly), justice (do what is right towards others), moderation (avoid extremes), cleanliness (keep your body and home clean), tranquility (don’t be disturbed by everything), chastity (be honorable), and humility (imitate Jesus and Socrates). Benjamin Franklin was not perfect at any of these but it was a target. What are your targets in life?
Most of the people I interact with are caregivers. They are parents, teachers, health care workers, advocates, caregivers of aging parents, etc. I am currently a toddler teacher, life coach, and artist. I love working with toddlers. They are so precious. My days are packed with meaningful acts of service to help these little ones learn and grow. When I get home I am physically and mentally exhausted. I try to call my mom every day right after work to make sure she is okay and had a good day. I walk my dog and play toys with her for a bit. After that I take some time to rest. I take off the work clothes, put on yoga pants and a t-shirt and usually take a little nap. Giving myself a break used to be more of a struggle but I have learned I am more productive and do more for others when I take care of myself. Are you committed to taking better care of yourself?
Here are some of my ideas for being proactive about self-care:
- Grocery shop for foods that will make your body healthy. Allow yourself time to sit and enjoy your meals.
- Schedule sleep as a priority.
- Schedule time to spend with people that light you up. Learn to be completely present with people you care about most.
- Schedule time to exercise, be in nature, and engage in hobbies that make life worth living.
- Allow time off when you are sick in mind, body, or soul. Use that time wisely by seeing a doctor, therapist, or spiritual leader. Better yet, proactively care for your mind, body, and soul by practicing the habits of self-care that keep you healthy.
- Pay attention to what your inner voice is saying. Are you saying things to yourself that are helpful and empowering or are you constantly being self-critical and condemning? Be your own best friend. Catch the negative self-talk and start saying things to yourself that you would say to someone you care about.
- Manage your money in a way that reflects your values. Use it wisely. Retail therapy feels terrible if your bills are not getting paid. Make decisions with money that will feel good later. Budget reasonable treats.
- Create boundaries around your time and your energy so as to not allow people or projects that are a drain on your resources to suck you dry. You can’t do everything for everyone or for every cause you would like to. You are human. Make a list. Make some choices. You can do more good for a few causes that you are truly focused on than you can by reacting to needs blowing up all around you. If you are aware and empathetic, you will discover there is a human need minefield all around. Choose one good thing to do at a time and give it your all. You can serve others while still maintaining a little internal calm and self-love for yourself.
- Schedule time to work on your personal goals for health, for your career, for your relationships. Value what you value.
- In the same way that you would want your kids or aging parents have time for meals, fun activities, and rest, allow that for yourself.
As a coach, I empower people to create the plan and then work the plan that helps them follow their bliss. While you are taking care of others, don’t forget that you also matter. Loving yourself is not selfish. In proactively planning self- care, you are just increasing the value you will add to those you serve.
I am now doing initial Creative Discovery Sessions for $125. In this session I will ask you questions to determine your values, goals, and dreams and then create a plan for living a life that reflects those core values. Sometimes we need to have structured time to organize our thoughts and make a plan. That is what I can do for you as a coach.
Tracy May, M. ed., Certified Life Coach