I have four children and run a thriving start-up business. Not unexpectedly, I often feel like I am burning the candle on both ends.
In the last 6 months, I consciously decided to take better care of me. I did this, because I could feel myself slip in ways I didn’t like. From filling in my clothes way too much, to not being fully present for my children, to sleeping poorly, I realized something had to give.
I realized that if I wanted to co-lead my household, I needed to lead me first. I also knew that I cannot give what I do not have.
This scenario is echoed one too many times among organizational leaders as well. Their days are filled with tactical execution, trying to impress the boss, listening to their team members while also often balancing a busy home life.
What’s left over for them to give to themselves?
Over the last few months, I took some needed time away from all things that pull me in different directions, from the things that energize me and sometimes deplete my energy. In each instance, I came back refreshed.
Below are 3 things to think about on the topic of self-care:
You deserve it
For most of us, we feel torn between wanting to take time for ourselves and knowing we need to give time to those we love and those that look to us for guidance. For many years, I just let myself go. I didn’t care for myself physically, mentally, or spiritually. I was run down and full of guilt.
Then, I thought to myself, “How can I be a great leader for my team, for my children, or my community, if I continue to make self-care the last thing in my life?” My answer to this question started me on a path of carving out time for me. In turn, I was able to invest more focused time in those around me and be more effective in the process.
In the end, I deserve it. Every leader who wants to thrive must come to this conclusion. I am glad I did sooner rather than later.
Agree ahead of time
I love my family. I care deeply for those on my team. I adore my clients. Having said that, the biggest barriers to self-care execution are people. The people with whom I am closest are the ones whom pull me the hardest in different directions.
I like to have open conversations with those I care about most regarding my intentions to exercise self-care. For example, my children know that I work out in my basement at home at a certain time of day almost every day. I have set healthy limits. It is my time, and they seem to appreciate my focus on consistency.
This same type of “understanding” should be explicit at work. Leaders of teams should talk to their team members about times in their day that will be focused on them and then focused on self. Setting clear expectations around and modeling the importance of self-care is critical to sustaining it.
Waiting makes you weaker not stronger
Today is the perfect time to take care of yourself. Leaders often fail to focus on self-care, because they think it makes them weak to need the time for themselves. In fact, self-care makes you stronger. It makes you a stronger parent, leader, or volunteer. You do everyone a disservice by putting all your energy into others and denying time for yourself.
So, go ahead and show your strong side by taking time to exercise, eat well, pray, meditate, or simply learn something new! You will feel like the best version of yourself for doing so. Those you care for will be thankful that you did.