Though I ask it often here, I’m going to ask it again: Darling, what do you want? Like, deep down in your soul, what are you desiring to experience? Who do you want to BE? What are you longing to create or birth into the world?
While I’m asking questions, here’s one I haven’t asked in a while: what’s keeping you from going after it?
And how often are you setting aside your dreams for others?
I ask this because I see the number of ways you show up in the world. You’re brilliant at your job. You do all the right things to support your aging parents. You love your kids and make all kinds of sacrifices for them. You do little things for your partner. You volunteer. You’re active in your networking groups.
You honor your commitments and are of service to others.
Let me tell you that I’m not knocking service to others; it’s a part of being human and sharing our lives with folks. We are always of service to them in some way.
But are you going so overboard in the service of others that you don’t tend to your own self? To those dreams you have?
And maybe…just maybe you aren’t just ignoring the siren call of what you truly long to experience. You aren’t even making self-care basics a priority. Yes, I’m talking about getting enough sleep, moving your body, and eating good food.
When have you taken time to nourish the needs of your mind and soul? (And, no, binge-watching Netflix doesn’t count. That’s numbing, sugarplum)
I know from experience how much easier it is to take care of the folks you care about and the people you commit to than it is to follow up on the commitments to yourself.
I also know that being the giver can sometimes be seductive. People praise others that sacrifice and give. Folks compliment your volunteer work, your parenting skills or the way you are a wonderful daughter.
Inside you are dying for your own nourishment. You say…
- I’m going to write that book one day.
- I’m going to work out at least three days this week.
- I’m going to sit down to the table and eat a nice meal at least once this week.
- I’m going to get at least seven hours of sleep every night this month.
- I’ve always wanted to go to New York City.
But you don’t actually do any of these things because you believe that you don’t honestly deserve that extra care. That putting yourself ahead of those you love is selfish.
Yet, how can you be of service to others in any way when your actions scream “My desires aren’t important“?
Though I don’t know the quick answer to this, I know a few things that play into it.
- Our culture rewards both men and women for sacrificing for Work and Family.
- There are so many fears wrapped up in pursuing our dreams, so the voices of fear encourage us to set them aside by doing for others instead of ourselves.
- We live in a culture that praises Busy as worthiness, which is really just praising the art of numbing.
- We don’t know what we want. Oh, we have little surface desires, but we don’t know what we REALLY want. Because we lack clarity. And that fear is here, too.
- We don’t have a vision for our life.
- We may have a to-do list, but we don’t have a plan.
I’m going to be straight with you, sugarplum: YOU are the most important commodity in your life.
What I know for sure is that until you begin caring for that most important commodity, you will never be able to be of long-lasting service to those around you.
If you don’t see yourself as a priority equal to the needs of others, you’ll always struggle with happiness and inner peace. If you don’t honor the commitments your heart is begging you to make, then you you will feel disappointed in yourself and dissatisfied with your life.
You’ll feel like something is missing.
While it may look like you are doing a noble thing by always giving to others, never asking for anything, always trying to do it alone, never saying no, the truth is, darling, you aren’t. What you are doing is depriving the world of your inner light.
Our soul lights cannot shine when we’re exhausted, tired, unhealthy, depressed, unfulfilled or depleted.
If you really want to serve your family, community, career and the world, you must make yourself a priority. It wasn’t until I began to put myself at the top of my own list that I began to fall in love with my life.
Here are eight steps you can take to begin making you – your needs, your wants, your desires, yourself, your life – a priority.
One – Identify your current reality is the first place to begin.
Hello, awareness, my trusty friend. You can’t get where you want to go unless you start with where you are. What’s working? Where are things falling short? What are you tolerating?
Two – Get clear on your values and priorities.
Identifying your priorities and values helps you mark the milestones on your course. Your boss has priorities for you. You were always given objectives in school and college. But what about you? Do you have a list? What is important to you?
Three – Evaluate your relationships.
What relationships are priorities to not just your mind, but your heart? In what ways can you nurture yourself within your relationships? What relationships are nourishing? Which ones are draining?
Four – Where do you need to say “no?”
Once you have said “yes” to what matters most, you are in a great position to say “no” to those activities that matter less. This clarity allows you to choose the opportunities that matter to your soul. And a little bit of courage to not allow yourself to act based on the priorities of others.
Five – Be unflinchingly honest with yourself.
What do you envision in the not-too-distant future. Once you make peace with awareness, you need to get honest with how you’d like to see things shake out. What roles do you desire to fill? What would they look like in their ideal state? Yes, darling, I’m talking about creating a vision for your life.
Six – Look at the details of daily living, too.
A vision is that big picture view of your life. But don’t forget that little things matter. I came to understand that I could better manage my fear around pursuing my desires and tending my needs when I got clear around how I wanted my daily life to look and feel.
Seven – What’s the next step towards that vision?
Well, darling, you need a plan. Then comes your life plan. This isn’t about a set-in-stone list of steps and to-do’s. That next step isn’t over-complicated. And a life plan gives you the fuel to take your vision into your reality. It also helps you be bolder and more dedicated to YOU.
Eight – Make peace with the fact that fear is a natural part of living.
I know it is often easier to fall into the default-pattern of serving others rather than tackle something truly meaningful and scary (like, say, sending off that book proposal or taking steps to switch into a new career).
But I beg of you, darling, don’t put yourself last on the to-do list.
Don’t set yourself up for regrets on your deathbed because you never managed to “find the time” for those passion projects, for those vacations you meant to take, for those books you meant to write, for that business you intended to launch, and all of those other beautiful goals.
You and your dreams matter. And following your dreams will never diminish the way you can take that passion and love you’ve found for yourself and extend it to others.
Darling, it’s time to stop putting yourself last on the list.
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