Where do you feature on your priority list?
When you consistently put others’ needs before your own you risk burnout, dissatisfaction and lack of motivation. Think about your priority list, are you even on there? Modern life makes it very easy to focus on other people’s needs to the detriment of your own.
Why is it so hard to put ourselves first?
The culture of the world we live in
- Society tells us helping others is good so we feel that helping ourselves must be bad.
- Busyness, productivity and achievements are praised. Downtime and resting is wasteful.
- Asking for help and admitting we feel overwhelmed is seen as a weakness.
- Social media bombards us with unrealistic and often contradictory ideals of living a perfect life.
- Guilt. We feel guilt for wanting to ‘treat’ ourselves and guilt for not wanting to say ‘yes’ every time.
Lack of self belief
- It is hard to prioritise yourself when you don’t value yourself.
- Making changes takes energy, enthusiasm and commitment which can be extremely daunting when you have low self-esteem.
- Busyness is a form of comfort zone. If your self-confidence is low it can feel much easier to avoid putting yourself in a new situation.
As adults we believe the buck stops with us. We have to take responsibility for our actions throughout each day whether it’s looking after children, aging parents, delivering to work deadlines. It is exhausting, overwhelming and can be conflicting and confusing. How can we prioritise amidst such confusion and busyness?
How to start putting yourself first at work
Hunter Clarke-Fields sums up the need to put yourself first in the Huffington Post article, “Making Yourself A Priority Isn’t Selfish, It’s Your Responsibility!”. I agree that giving yourself permission to focus on yourself is an important starting point.
Here are my tips for prioritising your satisfaction at work:
- Acknowledge that there are many valid reasons why prioritising yourself is so difficult.
- Take comfort from the fact that you are not alone in feeling this way.
- Be honest, be kind to yourself, treat any exercise of re-evaluating your priorities as being a safe space where you don’t have to make any decisions until you are ready.
- Write down the main issues of your current reality at work.
- Be clear about your work values, likes and dislikes and where they exist in your role.
- What do you enjoy at work? What boosts your confidence? What do you avoid at work?
- Identify which working relationships are supportive, inspiring, fun and which are draining, boring and difficult.
- What conversations do you need to have to push back and reduce the negative tasks, demands or people and what conversations to move into a space that is more interesting, supportive and fits with your values.
- Identify when you should say ‘no’ and what is the most appropriate way to do it.
- Pinpoint where any self-doubt is coming from, is it underlying beliefs from your childhood, a co-worker or boss, a lack of interest in your role or being asked to do more than is reasonable?
- Accept that there will always be consequences to your actions and inaction. Be honest about how realistic your perceived consequences may be. The world will keep on turning if you say no or admit you are feeling overwhelmed and need support.
Recognising that you have been putting yourself last and as an adult it is your responsibility to look after yourself is a way of giving yourself ‘permission’ to take time to focus on your needs. Identifying the areas where changes need to be made and appropriate ways to get support will help you to make work satisfaction a priority.