Let’s face it. We wear a LOT of hats, and we want to look good in all of them. We want to be the tireless partner always ready for adventure, the innovative colleague who stands out at work, and the friend who never fails to keep in touch…all while carving out “me-time” to disconnect and de-stress. Sound exhausting?
I recently attended a workshop by Dr. Jamie Kulaga, author of The SuperWoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment, and learned that we often spend our energy in places that don’t make us fulfilled. We accumulate a list of things we would love to do someday, but simply can’t fit them into our schedules. Instead, we default to doing more chores or working longer hours at the office.
The secret to counteracting this is that when we start to prioritize things on that list in small, actionable steps, we can feel more fulfilled on a daily basis. These steps can be broken down into the easy-to-understand terms of What, How, When, Where and Why.
Step 1: List Five Ways you Enjoy Spending “Me Time”
The What: This could be going for a morning run, reading a book in a coffee shop, spending a day at the spa, volunteering at a food bank, catching up with a good friend, or taking a trip to the shopping mall. (For me, I want to spend more time meditating, which I find difficult in the hustle and bustle of living in the heart of San Francisco.) Ways to enjoy “me time” can be as grand as traveling to a foreign country or as simple as taking a walk. The key is being aware of how we can rest our overworked minds and keeping that list as a reference during our most stressful moments.
Step 2: Take One Hour to Do Some Research
The How: Instead of watching one or two episodes of your favorite Netflix show, look into how you can pursue those ways to enjoy me-time. Purchase a new book on Amazon.com or at a bookstore. Do a Google or Yelp search for some cool spas nearby. Search Meetup or Eventbrite for events to attend. Ask friends for ideas on local running trails or new boutiques in town. This will expand the list you created in Step 1 to make these me-time moments seem more attainable, while building anticipation for actually doing it!
Step 3: Make a Commitment by Creating an Appointment
The When and Where: The next step is to build commitment devices around one (or more) of those things on your list. Because my life is dictated by my Google Calendar, I will often create a calendar event telling myself to spend thirty minutes meditating at 7:00 AM on Friday. And to learn more about meditation and mindfulness, I registered to attend a Mindful Order of Being workshop. But there are other types of commitment devices. Call a close friend to establish a running date. Attach a sticky note with a specific date and time that you will be spending to read your next novel. Make an appointment at a spa. Once we turn our desires into commitments in our schedule, we are more likely to follow through.
Step 4: Evaluate Your Me-Time on a Monthly Basis
The Why: To refine our practice of carving out more me-time, we need to reflect regularly and think about the purpose of what we’re doing. Oftentimes, we only do this right before the new year or when a significant life event happens — i.e. turning a milestone age or experiencing major life changes. But you can do it anytime. I set up calendar reminders to journal for thirty minutes on the last day of every month to evaluate whether or not I’m spending enough me-time and what small, actionable items I can do to feel more fulfilled in the following month. Surround yourself with reminders of what eases your mind. Have your me-time list on a whiteboard or sticky note visible somewhere at home, at work, or in the car, or any place you may be susceptible to feeling stressed or anxious.
Step 5: Celebrate Your Success!
Whether you spend five minutes or five days committing to me-time each month, being more conscious of a need for me-time is most important, because only then can we make the progress we want to achieve. Some use a buddy system to keep themselves accountable for me-time by sharing goals and successes with someone at the beginning/end of each month. Others post on social media to show off what they have done! Toast yourself with a glass of champagne or meditate in thankfulness that you are taking better care of yourself. Just make time to celebrate!
Wherever we are, we channel endless amounts of energy into serving others because we care – and sometimes we forget (or neglect) to carve out necessary me-time so that we can best wear all those other hats. But when we build processes into our lives to ensure we are taking care of our own interests, we can also feel more fulfilled on a daily basis!
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