If your business magically morphed into some sort of military-grade operation — you’re flying a solo mission of the utmost importance over Japan tonight, and the fate of the free world rests in your hands — do you even have enough fuel to get there? Or do you crash and burn?
How many lights on your dashboard are blinking?
In practical terms, this means taking stock of everything that’s going on in your life at the moment. We can’t pretend your business doesn’t affect your personal life, or vice versa.
These questions will help you sort out exactly where you stand.
If the answer is anything but a smug ‘HANDLED,’ it’s a blinking light. (You know whether it’s a problem or not.)
How many times in the last week have you said you’re “busy?”
Do you feel overwhelmed, out of control, freaked out, or stressed the majority of the time?
Do you feel depressed, lethargic, or like you just don’t give a shit the majority of the time?
Do you consistently follow up with clients when they inquire about your products or services?
Do you have a client you’d like to get rid of, but you haven’t disentangled yourself yet?
When’s the last time you achieved Inbox Zero?
How many things have you been “meaning to” outsource, but you haven’t got around to it yet?
How many programs or products are sitting on your hard drive, waiting for your attention?
Do you make time to advance and progress your business, or are you treading water?
Do you have any projects, pieces, or kits at home that you haven’t yet installed, crafted, put together, or paid someone else to handle?
Is your relationship with your partner strained, stressed, or being swept under the rug because you’re too busy to handle it? How about your kids? Other important folks in your life?
When’s the last time you hung out with friends or family members because you wanted to, not because you had to?
When’s the last time you got a haircut? A facial? A pedicure or manicure? A massage? That other thing you have to do but don’t really want me to list here, whatever it is? (Starts with a ‘B’ and ends with ‘razilian,’ perhaps?)
When did you last take a vacation?
When did you last spend 24 hours without your phone?
When did you last work out three times in a single week?
When did you last have a date with your partner?
When did you last spend a day NOT achieving — on purpose?
How many lights are blinking? Ideally, it’s 5 or less.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, this isn’t meant to be an exercise in despair.
Just like when you go to a personal trainer and they measure all your bits and bobs, including pinching your fat and putting you on the scale, this is meant to be a starting point.
You’re only going to improve from here.
Before you think I’m being a smug dick, let’s hop in our Delorean and take a trip back in time. In July 2012, life looked a little different. SO MANY LIGHTS WERE BLINKING.
In Spring 2012:
• I hadn’t had a dental cleaning in six years. S-i-x.
• Working out was in my perpetual “start tomorrow” plan.
• The “start tomorrow” plan also included getting massages, pedicures, facials, and spa treatments.
• I couldn’t move my neck very far to the right or left because my muscles were so tight. (Working for eight hours a day at a laptop will do that to you.)
• I bought new clothes at Target or on the cheap because I didn’t want to “waste money” — I was going to lose weight — so soon, the new clothes wouldn’t fit anyway.
• I didn’t have regular haircuts, just one every three to six(ish) months, whenever a major event was coming up.
• I ate dairy daily, even though it caused painful stomach issues and major acne.
• I didn’t go outside every day. Or even every other day. I stayed in the house and wrote and hung out and watched TV.
• I didn’t even shave my legs very often.
• I literally could not ask for help from anyone. For anything. I wanted to do everything myself.
Self care is one of the hardest things on the planet for me to do. My sense is that it’s hard for most everyone, but especially for empaths. It takes energy above and beyond the typical or usual amounts. I mean, taking a bath is one thing, but leaving the house to get a massage? Or scheduling time at a hotel just to reconnect with your partner? ::pishaw::
If you’re anything like me — and you are — self care is a struggle.
It gets better, but it takes consistent attention. Right here, right now, let’s take a single step toward taking a better you by scheduling your self care. It’s time to put taking care of yourself on the calendar. (For realsies. Totes. And other trendy words.)
Schedule 1 activity per week for the next 4 weeks, and you’ll be well on your way to a more patient, loving, and revitalized self.
• Call the spa and schedule the haircut, the facial, the mani/pedi, the massage — or all of ‘em.
• Go outside for ten minutes without your iPhone, iPod, iBook, or iLife. Be device-free in the outdoors.
• Have a smoothie or a salad instead of that thing you know isn’t good for you but you shove down your throat because you “don’t have time” to eat better. Try it, just once.
• Buy a great outfit that fits, even if you’re not yet at your ideal weight. (Is anyone, really?)
• Schedule an appointment to help with any chronic pain you experience. That crick in your neck or back pain or weird elbow thing isn’t “normal,” nor is it “just part of getting older.”
• Shave your legs and your armpits even though you’re wearing pants and a t-shirt and no one will see. You’ll feel better. (Unless you’re a dude. And then you’ll feel weird.)
• Get your eyebrows shaped by a pro.
• Light a candle and quiet your mind as best you can and just sit for at least ten minutes.
• Play with your kids or your partner or your dog instead of watching them play while you cook dinner or do housework or keep busy doing “important” things.
• Ask for help with something you’ve been struggling with — whether it’s accounting or working out or cooking or cleaning or just getting the kids to bed on time — your loved ones are not mind readers. Ask.
Yah, I know you read that list and scoffed.
Re-read it, please, this time thinking about whether the person you love most in your life would agree with me or with you when we ask ’em if you need a bit of help in this department. ::gives you meaningful but loving glare::
Right, so. Small steps are all I’m asking — ten minutes in the next week is no big deal, right!? — and you’ll find those caring-for-yourself results push you to bigger and deeper levels of caring about yourself and your own needs.
Ironically, the better you take care of yourself, the more time and energy you have for taking care of those around you.
And your friends, family, and clients deserve better care, right?
P.S. Self care is even much more crucial if you’re an empath. (Are you?)