It's the time of year when it feels natural to reflect back and project ahead. Often, this includes an acknowledgement that we need to take better care of ourselves, leading to a correlating New Year's resolution of self-care.
In one of my most popular talks, I focus on the topic of Self-Leadership: Success from the Inside, Out. Overall, it's about being a better boss, employee, and person in general. Specifically, it's about improving three critical components:
Sadly, there are only a handful of organizations I've visited that prioritize the third component. Many individuals, particularly my fellow Gen X'er and younger Boomers, are also likely to put themselves last. While there's an increasing awareness of the importance of taking better care of ourselves, it has a way of sliding down the to-do list.
Even today, there are thousands of people verbalizing their self-care intentions -- starting after the holidays. You've got family gatherings, yummy leftover treats, year-end deadlines, and family in town. Tradition states that you can't start resolutions until after New Year's Day. Then, it will be Tuesday. I mean, who starts a new thing on a Tuesday? So let's 'lean into it' and then REALLY think about starting on January 8th.
So, why not start today?
Based on my personal experience and what I've seen in my coaching clients, here are a few possible insights:
You see taking care of yourself as a sacrifice on some level. A friend recently posted something on Facebook about recognizing the need to give up things, people, and circumstances she likes in order to gain greater health and happiness. This commonly held belief makes your brain sabotage even the best intentions. Similar to the work I do with sales professionals, sustainable success requires a fundamental mindset shift. If you visualize a set of gears, this flawed thinking makes the gears grind until eventually they either burn out or find their way back to each other. Often it takes an unbiased party to help you take the gears apart a bit, realign them for the goal at hand, add new parts or grease to keep it running smoothly and set you up for optimal growth over time.
You're afraid of being perceived as selfish. This may seem an ironic truth, given my first point. As a positive, most of the business builders who come to me for business coaching or sales consulting have "helping people" as a prime initiative and core value. Me too. Still, do you really need me to pull out the ol' airplane oxygen mask analogy? As in sales, it requires the right internal mindset, proper positioning, and being clear in asking for what you want (and need.) By taking care of yourself, you will be much more able to help others.
You're thinking too big. This may be the most common limitation to most areas of personal and professional growth. When we strive for any significant change, we think in terms of massive action. Meanwhile, the biggest changes happen on a quantum level. It's almost never one big thing, but rather a combination very small things. If we spent five minutes together, I could help you come up with two manageable new habits that, if done consistently and repetitively, would get you to your biggest goal. It doesn't matter if it's about health, money, inner peace, relationships, work, etc. Small things done are always better than great things planned.
You blame no money or no time. When I do sales training, we inevitably cover handling objections. Money and time are two common ones. We call these "lazy objections." Committing to taking better care of yourself in your own head costs nothing and takes no additional time. Want to lose weight, sleep better, have more energy, be healthier? Drink more water: it costs nothing and takes very little additional time. Want to be happier and less stressed? Practice being truly present in the moment: it costs nothing and actually saves time. Want better relationships with others? Listen more than you talk, ask better questions, and insert a speed bump between your brain and your mouth. Again, all of this costs nothing and maximizes time. I could go on and on.
You're lazy. Tough love, I know. The more you resist this idea, the more true it is. The root cause may be fatigue, procrastination, or perfectionism. Think through your basic habits as well as your willingness to get through the natural discomfort that comes with changing habits, introducing new ones, or possibly being bad at something. (Gasp!) Also, there's a difference between hard work and struggle. If you're truly dreading something, that's a problem of alignment. It's a sign to rethink the goal, not the action. If you're pretty sure you have the right goal, but you feel "stuck," the best strategy is just to get up and GO. Most often, there's no magic sign or perfect time. Decide and move. Progress, not perfection.
Given that my mission is largely focused on helping brilliant professionals make more money, I must remind you of the pragmatic benefits here. Growing a scalable and sustainable business requires healthy, energized, balanced individuals both at the helm and within the ranks.
In the meantime (and even if you don't call me), just pick one thing you can commit to right now. Self-care happens on multiple dimensions; it's not all about big dietary changes and sweat. Make a small promise to yourself. Start now. You can do it! As someone once told me, if you can't keep the smallest promises to yourself - you will never reach your biggest goals.
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