I always thought of myself as reliable and true to my word. If I say I’m going to do something for someone- whether it’s as simple as a phone call or an errand to run, or a task to complete, I get it done. And if for some reason I fall a bit behind schedule, I do the responsible thing and let the person know. But I don’t give up on the task. I just set a new deadline. Either way, it almost always gets finished. This is because the job or friends or people for whom I am getting these jobs or errands or favors done are important to me.
So why is it that I don’t always place the same value or give as much commitment to myself? Why is it that when given the choice to get something done for someone else rather than something I promised I would get done for myself, I choose the other person first? Why is it easier to keep promises to others and not to ourselves?
Putting others first is kind and considerate. But how can you give to others when you deplete yourself of your own energy and time and inspiration with all the giving?
I have been so hard on myself in terms of wondering why I haven’t gotten to the level in dance that I wanted to by now. Or why my abs aren’t as defined or my legs as quick, or my steps as clean as I want them.Or why I haven’t been writing as often or as in depth as I thought I would by now. But I haven’t even been making time to practice or be consistent enough in my workouts, or to actively take those journal ideas I have piled up and hash them out into completed pieces.
I haven’t been lazy, and my days have been busy. But why do I feel like I don’t have enough time for the steps that I know could lead to dreams come true?
Answering other people’s questions, messages and inquiries – other people’s “to-do” lists- has somehow taken more priority over my own “to-do” list. Each time I go to workout or plan to go to a dance practica, or hash out a writing idea that inspired me the night before, I allow interruptions to break this flow as if I think that time spent on me is not as well spent. Yet I can somehow make time to put into the tasks others need help with.
I am not suggesting that selfishness is the answer. However, what we ourselves want to achieve and complete and strive towards must be prioritized. And the friends and family who support this, and understand that giving to yourself should also be priority, are the people we want to keep around.
Because I have realized that keeping promises to ourselves, not just to others, is one of the greatest secrets to success.
The “problem” is that you have to first feel that you and your aspirations are worth it.
Someone recently reminded me that no one can do what we as unique individuals were each put on this earth to do. But the more time we only commit to helping others with their errands, tasks, and dreams, the less time we have to realise these callings of our own. Yes, helping others is important. But I wonder if when we overdo the help so much so that we don’t make any time for ourselves, could it partly be because we don’t really value ourselves or believe that we can actualize our own dreams? Maybe some of our putting others first is also a good excuse for us not to get on with our own goals. Can we make this switch and make more time for ourselves?
You don’t always have to answer every phone call, email, needy behavior from others right away, if at all. Sometimes, we are actually just perpetuating the neediness in others by responding immediately, rather than letting them find their own answers and independence too.
There are people around me in my circle of family and friends who don’t get back to people right away, or are very brief in their responses. I used to think that this was from a lack of caring or consideration. But now I realize that this, in moderation, is actually really smart.
These people get things done because they don’t deplete all their energy and resources responding only to others and forgetting about themselves. Instead, they prioritize their own dreams and goals as those worth achieving as much or even more than those of others around them. They become role models for self-care and setting healthy boundaries, and this, ironically, actually can inspire others to put themselves first too.
I wish someone had told me this before. Before I was running around exhausting myself trying to respond to every message, and every call for help, and every invitation to this or that event. It isn’t even possible in this day and age, when our inboxes are full and our faces are glued to our phones and our fingers are in automatic texting mode. I used to try to do it all not realizing that I didn’t have to. I would wonder why I was too tired to get my own tasks done, or couldn’t focus on my own creative projects or ideas.
If you are a care taker or parent, in no way am I suggesting that you walk away from your responsibilities towards your loved ones. But I believe that focusing in on what is really important will actually help you give more time to the people you want to put first. And within that list, be sure to include yourself.
What if you have gotten so used to putting everyone else first all the time for most of your life? TELL your promise to a supportive friend. Because we often naturally do keep to promises we make to other people, share with a friend what your promise to yourself is. This will make you feel more accountable to the promise because now you are not just making it to yourself, but also in a way, making it to another person.
I find that the more I tell people about the goals that I have, the more accountable I feel to the promise. Again, this might come from the habit of valuing pleasing other people more than myself. But I think it is a great transition step towards putting more value on your own dreams and moving towards making yourself a priority.
The key though, is to find the right people to tell. Don’t choose people who have their own fears and doubts about achieving goals, and then throw that onto you. Don’t choose people who like to remind you of all the other dreams or goals you didn’t get to in your past. Be sure to choose people who simply encourage you and check in with you to remind you of the promise that you have confided in them but have made to yourself. Choose people who believe in you and help you continue to believe in yourself. Your promises to yourself are worth keeping and sharing because you are worth the dreams that have inspired them.
There is no one out there like you who can do what you can do. Be sure to make time for you to achieve what you were put here to do. Pinky promise it to yourself and then go out and make the promise come true. You deserve it and the world needs your gift. So give it with open arms. You might be surprised by what gets put in them in return.