Here’s the story you tell yourself: you’re a champion. But your better-self sacrifices your own needs for others; someone else’s success is more important—a spouse perhaps. You tell yourself that one day, you will ensure the safe delivery of your own priorities, dreams, and achievements.
In fact, you might do something on the side that appeases your inner self. Like you’re writing a novel, doing artwork, developing something for a future business idea, slowly, but surely—unfortunately with no real goal or deadline— for now, you’re a champion who will give up everything.
I see it over and over, a life’s story turned into an allegory, sacrifices become martyred history, and sainthood hangs on the wall in an emotional frame. Can you even imagine what that frame will be worth down the road? Who wins? Not you.
EXAMPLE 1: THE STAY AT HOME MOM
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, I know what you’re thinking. My family needs me… and I’d stop you right there. Yes, your family needs you, and you should continue doing what you’re doing— with a working strategy that makes you that champion for your family. That way you can still do amazing things for your family, whilst also keeping yourself a priority.
Prioritizing your life and love is the key to everything that follows. You are the foundation of you, your love, your children, business, hopes, and dreams. If you do not prioritize the foundation that everything is built upon, you compromise the future of everything you love.
No one wins when you don’t prioritize yourself alongside those you’re supporting.
And that doesn’t mean you don’t overwork yourself. We all do. And it doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly sleeping in late, or being lax. If you have kids, are married, or perhaps this is your first year out of college, and you’re burning the midnight oil, there’s bound to be too much to do, no matter what.
Are you tired mentally and physically? You can’t even relax to watch a show, or plan a few hours just for you without feeling guilty, or having a to-do list run through your mind while watching a show? When Sunday afternoon arrives, there’s an anxious feeling that ruins the rest of your Sunday, because Monday is about to hit you, and you’re already behind! (Click here for How To Make Yourself A Priority)
There are endless reasons why we justify being the champion who gives up something for someone else, and each reason is a dead-end street. I did the same thing. My reason for giving up my dreams was that I was a dreamer. I didn’t have plans of working a 9-5 job or curing cancer. I wasn’t like everyone else. So, when I married, I put my husband and family first thinking they were more important. When I closed my business, I felt it: a warning. “Find a way to continue your independence while you raise your children.” But again, I was a dreamer. Not worthy of priority. Which was rather ironic as I’d done rather well financially in my dreaming world, and I was very happy.
Just to be clear, becoming a stay at home mom was the best thing I’ve ever done. Nothing compares to the sacrifices I made, the journey I took, the portals I opened by being that parent. And I wouldn’t change it for all the gold at the end of a billion rainbows. But what I would change was not prioritizing myself equally with my partner while I did. I gave 100% of me. When all I needed to give was 80%. Just 20% for me would have been enough.
Recently, I spoke to someone I’ve missed for many years. For six hours, a few glasses of wine, dinner, and endless laughs, we reminisced and thought over the highlights of our lives.
Both our lives, my friend’s being that of a lawyer’s, are comparable— in fact, neither were one dimensional. We’re both brave type’s that went after adventure and followed our dreams. But at the same time, both of us were surprised to have ended up where we are today as a result of the sacrifices we made. Neither of us expected it to happen.
But then it did.
You suddenly realize that one tiny thing never crossed your mind. That giving too much would not only harm you, but those you loved the most. Then you’re at a loss of how to regain old dreams; and yet, the dreams were always there.
And with that realization, we both laughed to understand that dreams just never go away. We can hide them, try to forget them, but they are there— waiting for us.
Both of us have prioritized ourselves again regardless of what we lost in between. And that brought on yet another surprise. Prioritizing me was like watering a seed in the desert. I grew like magic— but it was hard! You leave scars when you wait so long. The stress of over-giving without proper self-care eats your life away. And it lingers for years after. You’re flat tired! You destroy your own confidence because you’re out of practice.
What’s not understood is the paradoxical twist. Sacrifice removes the power to move forward, where sacrificing with a balance moves both the reason why you’re sacrificing and your own goals forward, both faster and better.
When you are in the storm, you see no way out, but when the storm catcher enters the circle, they can lead you right out and into the sunshine. Prioritizing is the storm catcher.
EXAMPLE 2: THE MOM WHO MISSED HER DAUGHTERS RECITAL
Michelle had the opportunity to prioritize her own life and get to her daughter’s recital in plenty of time. She knew what to do. It was, without a doubt, her right to be there for her daughter. But when asked if she was going to attend the meeting, her heart rate increased, and her stomach turned as she nodded yes to her boss. “I’ll be at the meeting.”
This is what you tell yourself next time. It will be okay, you’re a hero. With the money you’re generating, your daughter can attend any college she wants. But as you say it, your mind fights to quell the anxiety.
Why? Because you know what really matters. College matters, yes, but we can’t prove it’s worth more than the heart of that little girl. We can’t prove it!
I hear it all the time. Kids are resilient. Indeed, they are, but what does that mean as time progresses? It means as a child, they forgive, but as adults, they become the very thing that made them resilient. Disregard. Prioritizing money over family. They then learn to disregard others they love.
No one can say if Michelle would have been fired for walking away? But when you set your priorities and remember what is important, you may lose something. But what more absolute is that if you prioritize your family, you change what happens to the next generation.
It’s an epidemic out there. Many who believe they just don’t have time-management skills, or ironically don’t have the time, have an underlying problem: They don’t think it’s worth the effort to prioritize themselves.
But take a look at people like Google, ABC, Bill Gates, Ivy League schools. They all prioritize to stay alive, yet “you” the little guy doesn’t see the need.
Prioritizing you is a strength, and don’t think a career doesn’t respect your decision to prioritize your family! Without core values, we are not that valuable in the end.
Google, one of the most successful companies globally, has a lot to say about how prioritizing increases productivity. They are all about doing things right —time management—prioritizing everything!
ABC launched the power of prioritization methods in the 1970s that still work today. It changed the level of productivity, happiness, and bottom-line numbers for ABC!
So, think about prioritizing like this. If the world’s biggest names live by it, and a family is a business, so is a relationship, a career is as well, then prioritizing for your personal life is the wise move not only for career riches but those of the heart!
PRESSURES THAT PROMOTE PERFECTIONISM
Something I’ve seen over and over is what happens when we have too much on our plate at work or home. Critical pressures mount in this age of anxiety, especially when we start falling behind or we find ourselves in unexpected situations. Fear of being under accomplished creates an obsession that turns us into perfectionists.
Time management actually really helps in these cases. Prioritizing you is about understanding yourself as much as it is organizing yourself. Digging deep will heal the need for perfectionism by focusing on what’s real, and also by logic and real-time practice.
This subject is covered in the How to Prioritize Course. So, enjoy it and let me know if you need anything.
- Psychology Today, Allison E McWilliams Ph.D., Hope Is Not a Plan
- Marty Nemko Ph.D.,Nine Ways to Improve Your Time Management
- ProQuest, Forbus, Patricia; Newbold, John J; Mehta, Sanjay S.A, A STUDY OF NON-TRADITIONAL AND TRADITIONAL STUDENTS IN TERMS OF THEIR TIME MANAGEMENT BEHAVIORS, STRESS FACTORS, AND COPING STRATEGIES