What happens when you can’t put yourself first? You know you want to create change in your life, but you just can’t find the time.

How does this story end? What if you never find the time for yourself, what happens then? Do you just drift into autopilot letting others dictate your life and your future for you? 

This isn’t an uncommon story at all. 

Why do we find it so hard to put ourselves first? Pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion before we are willing to stop and take some time for ourselves?

I have definitely been there. When the fear of letting people down meant I said yes to everything. I was so concerned that people would be disappointed in me, that I would hurt their feelings so instead I exhausted myself by saying yes to everyone, but not to myself. 

I learnt the hard way that by saying yes to everyone meant I was never able to be fully present. I was always running late, and my mind was always on what was to come.

Learn to say no!
And so I learnt the power of saying no. It wasn’t easy, but I learnt how. My knee jerk reaction is always yes, it still is, but I have learnt how to stop. And now when I need to, I am always able to carve out some time for myself. My week no longer runs me. And it is so important that you do the same. 

If you’re ready to take on the next challenge then you need to create some time to work on that. So how can you carve out some time for yourself in an already very busy week.

Too many people don’t take the time to put themselves first. They are always second to everyone else’s needs. 

How To Find Yourself Some Time
First off ask yourself; Is this really a priority for me right now? Take five minutes to really think about this.
Ask yourself: 
What is going on in my life right now? Is now the time to start making changes? How will this potentially impact my life, and the people in my life?

You don’t need to know all the details, but you do need to decide if this is indeed a priority. If it isn’t, then you will never be able to find the time.  

If you know this is a priority for you and you are fully committed, start making some changes.

Change your mindset:
Do you worry people will be disappointed in you if you don’t go to every meeting? Every engagement? Respond to every email? Accept every invitation? 
Ask yourself: Why do I feel this way? Where is this pressure coming from, from other people, or from you? After you have let your imagination run wild, tell yourself the truth. What will people really think? Most likely you know they will not think you are selfish, people won’t be disappointed.

 If you communicate in the right way why you cannot say yes to everything then most of the time people will be very understanding.

Stop Saying Yes:
If your natural reaction is to always say yes, then you need to be very mindful. 
Rather than say yes, say; Let me get back to you, or  Let me think about that both are such simple sentences, but they will buy you enough time to gather your thoughts, assess whether this is really a priority or not, and then come back with a response. Stop your knee-jerk reaction of saying yes to everything. It’s time to really prioritise.

For people who are natural pleasers, having to give an answer on the spot can make it very hard to say no, so buy yourself some time.  

Make it concrete:
Get serious and get committed. Ask yourself:  How much time am I willing to put aside each week and what will I use this time for? What is it I actually want to achieve each week, or month?

You need to get concrete. If you don’t know what you’re going to use the time for, it’ll be very hard to commit. You might even say the first goal is ‘to find an hour where I can build a plan of what I will do with this time’

Where is the resistance:
Analyse where the resistance has been up until now. Is it really external factors that are getting in the way? Is there something internal that might sabotage your attempts to put some time aside? If you feel friction ask yourself why that is. Is there something deeper going on? 

Often when we put something off, we blame external factors, but it generally means deep down we don’t want to do it, understanding why is key to moving past it. 

Conduct an audit of your week:
Look at your week and see in which areas you can save time:
What are you doing with the commute time you used to have? If you are working from home are you just working more?
What are you doing that isn’t important?
How much time do you spend watching TV or online? Are you able to cut back even a bit. 

I have often found that when I need to do something for myself, suddenly cleaning out the laundry cupboard is of the utmost importance – but really is it? NO! It’s just me not committing. 

Schedule it and make it happen!
Go through each step and take your time to answer these questions. Once you have completed this, make a clear plan of which days and at what times you are going to take time for yourself. Schedule it in your calendar and stick to it. Don’t allow yourself to make up excuses. This actually makes it easier for you as you don’t need to think ‘when am I going to do this’ it’s already there for you. And now commit to it.

On days you feel a lack of motivation, remember why you are doing this. If you want to make a significant change in your career and life, then you have to make time for yourself. And keep repeating the above steps as many times as possible if you feel yourself getting off track.

You can do it, just have some faith and put yourself first for once!

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