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How to prioritize yourself
5 steps to putting yourself first – no matter what
Socrates’ quote “Know thyself” is one of his most famous, but did you know he also wrote about caring for yourself? The full quote is “Know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves.” Today it seems that everyone endorses self-care – yet finding the time and energy to prioritize yourself in this busy world is another story.
Learning how to prioritize yourself goes beyond self-care. It means crushing the beliefs that are keeping you indebted to others’ priorities and prioritizing your own dreams and ambitions instead. Find a deep belief that you matter. Put yourself first – so that you don’t end up last. It isn’t always easy, but it will be worth it not only for you, but for your loved ones.
1) Shift your mindset
The first step is to shift your mindset and stop thinking of prioritizing yourself as selfish. Tony says that you have to help yourself before helping others. When we spend all of our time caring for others, we end up feeling tired and stressed, and that can actually make us less able to focus and connect with others. We can’t engage with our children or partners. We don’t excel at work. We don’t achieve our goals.
When you take time for yourself, you’ll feel recharged and energized. You’ll rediscover your passions and personal connections. You may even fall in love with yourself all over again. Then you’re able to use that energy and growth to help the people who matter most even more. So throw out the idea that you must always say “yes” and start putting yourself first.
2) Conquer your limiting beliefs
Once you embrace the idea that you must help yourself to help others, you’ll still have some work to do. Shifting your mindset – and your life – in this way involves getting your own “mental house” right. That means identifying and overcoming your limiting beliefs: the stories you tell yourself that are holding you back from learning how to prioritize yourself.
Do you feel you need to be everything to everyone? Are you a perfectionist or even a controlling person? These types of limiting beliefs often stem from our childhood experiences of having to earn the love of our caregivers. If you were made to feel you didn’t deserve love unless you put others first, those beliefs follow you into adulthood – and limit your ability to prioritize yourself.
3) Forget expectations
Limiting beliefs are often built on the expectations of others. We feel pressure to excel in our careers, have the perfect home and keep the passion alive in our relationships. Our parents want certain things for us. Our spouses have their own needs and desires. Our friends expect us to keep up with a certain way of life or to put the group first. Even strangers can pressure us through advertising and social norms.
To prioritize yourself, it’s essential to remember one thing: the expectations of others – especially strangers – don’t matter. You must create your own blueprint for your life. When was the last time you thought about what you really want? Career, financial freedom and relationships are all important, but prioritizing your true goals in each of these areas will ultimately bring you the most fulfillment.
4) Discover your true self
It’s easy to get caught up in identities that the world creates for us: boss, parent, partner, son and daughter. When these roles end – when the kids move away, when you retire – you finally have the time to prioritize yourself, but you don’t know who you really are. Once you forget others’ expectations, you’re free to discover your true self.
Stop thinking about what others want and ask yourself: What are you most passionate about? When you finally find a quiet moment to yourself, what do you most want to do? Then schedule in more of those quiet moments and start doing those things. Maybe you need to wake up earlier to read, write or practice priming. Perhaps you take one weekend a month to hike, bike or spend time with friends. Help yourself to help others by recommitting to your passions.
5) Keep growing
We’re all busy. We’re taking the kids to activities, working late at the office, spending time with friends and family and caring for aging parents. With so little time on our hands, we start to confuse being busy with growth. But putting others first doesn’t mean you’re growing. Learning how to prioritize yourself is essential to true growth – and if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Commit to constant and never-ending improvement in every area of your life, but especially in your own personal growth. Keep a journal or a list of your self-care activities, new skills and latest knowledge. Feed your mind with inspiring books, articles or quotes about prioritizing yourself. And always remember that it’s not selfish to prioritize yourself – it’s one of the most selfless things you can do.