How Would You Run Your Life Differently?

By Vanessa Fiske
January 25, 2013 • comment(s)
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What I find about blogging is that some of the best posts are the ones you stumble upon.  I was mulling over the various topics to start my first Glass Heel article and a former colleague posted this on Facebook, “How would you run your life differently if you decided to put yourself first?” 

I wrote what first came to mind.  “I’d be fifteen pounds lighter and written a best-selling novel…instead I share my life with a bunch of people I call friends and family.”  Sums it up, blog finished.   Yet, the layers of complexity behind that statement are many.   

I’d like to go back to the time when I believed that I could do it all—have a career, be a good wife and family member, take good care of myself and have a thriving social life.  The only way you can have it all is when you have endless resources to have everything you need at your fingertips—and for ninety-nine percent of us, that is not an option.   Baby food does not magically appear in the pantry, the dog doesn’t walk himself and any good marriage needs a weekly dose of TLC. 

In fact the only thing I really wanted last weekend was a manicure—nothing fancy, just a half an hour for someone to trim and polish up my nails.  Five o’clock came and went on Sunday.   My nails were still in horrible shape.   You could argue that if it was important, I would have made an appointment and wouldn’t be complaining.    Yet, just as important was to keep a flow in our day.  I knew the morning was anchored by swim lessons, but sometimes the grandparents come and then there’s breakfast afterwards.   Depending on how long the nap was would determine whether or not we’d do a play date.  Like many moms before me, I put my family first and didn’t make an appointment.

Why is it so difficult for us to put ourselves first, even for an hour?   The lesson we need to learn is that being happy is up to us.   It is terrific when our partners or family members do something that makes our day, but they are not mind readers.  They often don’t know when you need that back rub or the house cleaned up.    

Here’s my challenge to you over the next couple of weeks.  Decide each morning what gift of time you are going to give yourself every day.  You must do a minimum of five minutes and have at least one day when you give yourself three hours.  [I thought about putting in a five hour requirement, but that even scared me.]  Even if you travel for work, get up that half hour earlier to workout or take five minutes to stop in that art gallery.

I am willing to bet that the days you take of yourself you’ll be a better person.  It is the rare overwhelmed, stressed out person who can radiate sunshine.   Your “me deficit” shows up in your work, your relationships and your health.   Our environments often do not encourage “me time”.   I worked at a company where the average time in meetings  was six hours a day.   The pressure to get work done in the remaining time, including lunch, was high.   Yet, that fifteen minute walk around the block was usually the reset button I needed.   Just getting the fresh air often spurred my thinking and unlocked new angles to old problems.  

Next time I’ll write about what it was like to put myself first.  I hope you’ll be ready to share your experiences too.

Author’s footnote:  I still need the manicure.  I am travelling to our corporate headquarters with ragged, uneven nails.  I will make an appointment for this weekend—that will be one of my time gifts.


Vanessa Fiske is a writer, blogger and consultant. You can learn more about her by following her on Twitter @MktgMixologist.



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