Surprisingly enough, putting yourself first can be a little confusing and stressful. The main reason for this is that , for many, the concept of putting yourself first seems to feel more and more foreign as you age into midlife.
What typically happens is that you work so hard in your 30s and 40s to get established in some combination of career, family and finances. It can be a chaotic time of life when you’re prioritizing these important areas of your life. Thinking about yourself can take a back seat even with noble, inclusive goals like these.
With a few grown-up decades under your belt (and maybe a roll or too), it can start to feel unfulling after awhile.
Your nest starts to empty.
Your job or career starts to feel boring.
Your milestone birthdays start to feel heavier with urgency.
You know there’s got to be more meaning out there for you somewhere.
So…you decide it’s time to put YOU on the agenda.
But then something weird happens.
Even this thought can feel unfamiliar and…wait for it…a little selfish.
You notice that it’s much easier to continue on with your people-pleasing ways and put other people’s needs first.
Are you familiar with the term “people pleaser?” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means ” a person who has an emotional need to please others often at the expense of his or her own needs or desires.”
Does this sound like you?
Here’s what it might look like in your life.
- Yes, of course you have time to help your kids at the drop of a dime. Even if you had a massage appointment booked.
- Of course you can work overtime to handle that new deadline that came out of nowhere. Even if you had other plans.
- Or, even when there’s no obvious competing demand, you struggle to have your own back and stick to your commitments to yourself. You notice this with simple weight loss and exercise goals. When it’s just FOR YOU (and not a commitment to someone else), it’s easier to let other things get in the way.
What’s going on here?
You would think that when you’re OLDER AND WISER, this would be easier!
The reason it’s difficult to put yourself first isn’t because you’re not worth it or don’t have the skills.
It’s simply that you’re out of practice doing a few important things related to putting yourself first.
- you’re not used to thinking about your needs
- you’re not used to thinking about your dreams
- you’re not used to thinking about how you can have more fun
- you’re not used to taking care of yourself at the highest level
- you’re not used to saying no to the people you love
- you’re not used to prioritizing yourself
- you’re not used to having your own back
- you’re not used to honoring your commitments to yourself
- you’re not used to noticing the urge to break the commitment to yourself
- you’re not used to being aware of your thinking on this topic
It’s as simple and as complicated as this.
Here’s what to do to get better at putting yourself first.
It’s your thoughts.
Once you improve your ability to NOTICE what you’re thinking, you will also improve your ability to put yourself first.
In each of the examples above, there’s a thought involved. Or a series of related thoughts that take you down the rabbit hole of NOT putting yourself first.
And you know what?
You’re more comfortable there.
It’s your happy place.
You have the belief that you can make someone else happy by the way you behave.
You might even feel a little stuck.
You basically go out of your way to make someone else happy…even when you’re tight on time or money. And you don’t do it just to be nice. It’s usually related to your own insecurities in some way.
The funny thing though, is that uou might not be fully aware of this.
But again, when you get better and better and noticing your thoughts when you have the urge to do this, you’ll likely see a pattern.
How strong is your commitment to yourself?
Assessing your commitment to yourself is really the core of putting yourself first.
Think about it.
Commitment is a feeling.
Feelings are generated by the way you think.
So, what do you think about commiting to your specific priorities?
This is how to move forward with finally putting yourself first. It’s how you get unstuck!
- Identify your priorities. Start with one.
- Ask yourself why it’s a priority.
- Plan in advance to support your priority.
- Anticipate obstacles (like requests from other people) and a strategy to deal with them as they come up.
- Notice your thoughts as you practice being more aware of what you want.
- Create a pause after you notice an urge not to stick to your plan.
- Allow your discomfort with sticking to the plan…but do it anyway.
It will take some time for sure, but these are the basic elements to learning how to have your own back and putting yourself first.
Of course there will be hiccups.
That’s why I created some help for you. You’re not alone, that’s for sure.
Be Finally First!
The Finally First Club is your home away from home when it comes to coaching, community and connection to other amazing midlife women working on the same thing…finally putting themselves first!
It’s my virtual, monthly coaching program to help you move the dial forward on greater commitment to yourself when it comes to your priorities around self-care, being more intentional about your relationships and the way you make a formal professional contribution in the world. It’s time for you to get serious about being more fulfilled and happier! We’re waiting for you. Join us now! www.iamfinallyfirst.com
Can’t wait to see you put yourself first!