Sunday, February 09, 2014

Forget Year of the Horse. It is Year of Me

Why is it as women that we are prone to putting our own needs last?  Is it our childhood upbringing or just part of our DNA as women.

With the start of a new year, I’ve been asking women what they want for themselves this year.  Given I work mainly with small business owners, I expected to hear about growth plans or how they were going to delegate more, or do business differently. 

But no, the overwhelming response has been the wish to transfer the focus from others to themselves.  Forget Year of the Horse, this, according to the women, is the Year of Me.  Tired of juggling all the tasks on their lists, trying to please everyone; they have decided to please themselves.

And good for them.  However, old habits are hard to break and our families and staff are used to us being “on call.”  It may therefore have to be a gradual process, rather than switching overnight to being “all about you.”   What you don’t want is to go too far the other way and become self-absorbed.  That doesn’t work either and will create friction   at work or at home and more likely than not, sabotage your plans for fun.

As one woman suggested, make a list of all that irritates you, tasks you would like to delegate to someone else, or eliminate all together. Just because it has always been done, and by you, doesn’t mean it always will be.  Letting go of perfection and the need to have it done your way, will free up your time and energy. 

Part of the trick, I think, is to schedule time -  for yourself – start with just a few hours a week to do something just for you like getting your hair cut, meeting friends for coffee or dinner; or pursuing that hobby that you loved but have neglected.  Don’t have any hobbies?  Reflect back to what you enjoyed doing as a child.

For me it is always sitting with a good book where I can escape and forget about where I am and what I have to do.  I love mysteries and I think in another life, I’d make a good detective.  So what works for you?

One of the challenges is getting over your guilt.  We are so programmed to be doing stuff for everyone else, that sitting down, with our feet up reading a book seems decadent and wrong.  But as someone who is a beginner at this, trust me you can get over it, and feel so refreshed as a result. 

Just like the hamster on the treadmill, going round and round.  Break the cycle.  Stop, open the door and get out. Even if you won’t do it for yourself, think of your children.  You are a role model of how it works, or not. Show your daughters that it’s OK to take time for yourself.  Let your sons know that they can’t expect their partners to always be on call and need to respect their need for space, for time alone.

You work hard and are entitled to a break. So cut yourself some slack, step out and make a date with yourself.  You’ll find you are in good company.

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