I believe that I’m the poster child for over-commitment. My entire adult life has been filled with a series of projects, events, jobs, side jobs, internships, classes, you name it. It took several years of my mother and partner repeating, “SLOW DOWN,” until I finally listened. And, truth be told, it wasn’t even their words that affected me; it was facing the fact that I’d have to undergo IVF.
IVF really forced me to re-evaluate how I was spending my time and energy. And what I realized, once I gave myself the chance to think, was that I was filling up my life with so many things and people expressly so that I wouldn’t have energy to contemplate bigger things. Like, what really drives me? What do I enjoy? What challenges me?
I’m not going to pretend that I have the answers to those questions, but I’m certainly not afraid to have the time to contemplate them now. I’m even comfortable with the fact that I don’t know the answers. That’s probably the biggest gift IVF has given me: the space to take time for myself and to honor myself.
With that in mind, there are a few basic things that are integral in cultivating the time and space to honor yourself. You don’t need to have some thunderbolt like IVF to snap you into it, you just need to…
1. Give yourself permission: allow yourself to be nice to you! You must be okay with giving up bits of time and energy to “pamper” yourself – which it will undoubtedly feel like at first, but which you will soon realize is not simply pampering, but energizing your soul, thereby allowing you to give and do so much more for yourself and others!
2. Reallocate funds: figure out what money is going out the door towards things that aren’t that important (partying, take-out, frivolous purchases) and dedicate it to something meaningful. Yoga, acupuncture, organic produce, fancy supplements – whatever it is that will fill your body and soul holistically.
3. Make it routine: whatever it is that you’re implementing, make sure you do it religiously. No excuses. Why? You have to make yourself top priority!
4. Be consistent: don’t make excuses not to stick to it. Honor yourself and keep your promises!
5. Journal/blog: find some way to mark down what you are doing for yourself; when you can track the care you are taking to nurture yourself, you’ll be able to actually see and appreciate the impact that much more.
6. Evaluate: like any good project, you must evaluate its progress to determine its success. Once you’ve been really good to yourself for a while, ask yourself some hard questions. You may not like the answers you come up with – heck, you might not even have the answers! – but, with a clearer mind and a kinder heart towards yourself, you might find yourself being more honest. There are a million questions you can ask yourself, but here are some I started with:
- Am I happy?
- Am I challenged?
- Am I surrounding myself with people who support and challenge me, who bring out the best in me?
- Am I making good choices about my professional life? My personal life?
- Am I being the best partner/friend/lover/child/parent/employee I can be?