If your days seem to be filled with endless tasks to complete without making time for moments to enjoy, perhaps it’s time to put some “me time” on your to-do list.
In my experience as a life coach, I have found that more and more people—women especially—find it incredibly difficult to take time for themselves. Combining the nurturing roles of spouse, parent, child, sibling and friend with the daily stresses of a career is not only exhausting but time-consuming and overwhelming. Fitting in time for yourself is often the easiest thing to cross off your to-do list. When we put ourselves last, however, we often end up losing sight of what is important to us and what we need to be our best.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a reporter who interviewed me months ago. Since each person’s experience with a life coach is different, I decided to ask her what she learned from our meeting. In our hour together, we talked how the various aspects of her life that made her happy and sad, and if she was able to find a balance.
“The one hour I spent with you was intense and an eye-opener…how I allowed myself to get THAT busy. The interesting thing about our meeting was that I spent an hour focusing on myself for the first time. I had heard many women speak about women’s intuition—a gut feeling they get when they fall off the beaten path…but not me. I never got that feeling so I didn’t believe I was off. But how could I if I was too busy to even notice it? What’s worse, is when I was too busy, I self-medicated…and my drug of choice was food. I used food to suppress the feeling.”
During our meeting, Susan* mentioned she often resorted to yelling as a method of communicating with her husband and children when her built-up anger became too overwhelming to contain.
“After speaking with you, I realized I was taking out my frustration with the kids and my husband. I’m not saying I am perfect, but I am more aware. Now, I get down to my kids’ eye level when I speak to them instead of yelling at them. This strategy has made me a better person already.”
Changing your behaviour for the long term can be difficult if you don’t truly understand why you behave that way in the first place. After some soul-searching, Susan was able to realize she was battling a lifetime of self-doubt and trying to compensate by taking on more than she could—or needed—to handle.
“I was taking on too much. I probably wasn’t communicating or setting boundaries with anyone because I believed I wasn’t contributing enough…I wasn’t doing enough. I always had a need to prove myself…most of my life I’ve felt as if I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. So I did everything I could to try to get some appreciation/validation to make up for it and when I didn’t get it, the message played in my head like a broken record: You’re Not Good Enough. When I realized where those messages originated from, it was clear who still had control over me—I simply took back my control.”
When we met, time was a major concern for Susan and she was struggling to find the perfect balance between her work and home life.
“I took a strong look at all the work I was doing and what I really wanted to do. I also noticed how much energy I spent fixating on stuff I didn’t want to do. I used that time to make self-serving plans and a strategy to move forward. Family was a the top of the list. Now, I spend more time with my family and work is at a place that feels good. Today, I would say I am a happy person.”
By taking time to reflect on what was really important and examine the reasons for her behaviour, Susan was able to make significant changes in her life.
“You need to take a moment to realize what feels good,” says Susan. “When you are too busy to feel it, you don’t realize what you’re missing.”
Give yourself permission to take a break and to follow 3 simple steps to create 'me' time
- Schedule “me” time into the calendar. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, spend that time journaling about your thoughts, paying close attention to how you feel. If you make it the same time each day, your “me” time will become part of your daily routine.
- Take up a hobby. Find something you enjoy that you get completely lost in. Having a clear mind can bring about many epiphanies, but the key lies in silencing the mind long enough to have them; hobbies have a way of doing just that.
- Talk to a life coach. Take an hour and talk to a professional. Making it all about you is extremely soothing, and you may discover the underlying reasons for some of your previous actions and ongoing behaviour.
Bruno LoGreco, life coach toronto, author & spokesperson