You're All That You've Got

If you love yourself, you’ll take care of yourself.

The March 2001 issue of Business Week magazine reported on a survey they conducted. They asked thousands of people how they were doing. The most common response they received was, “I’m tired.” People seemed to be worn out like never before.

Indeed. Even though some people would call me a “motivational speaker,” and even though it may be my “job” to tell people how to do more, be more, and get more, I have to admit there are limits. While it’s good to use your talents, even desirable to be a peak performer, it’s not okay to achieve great things at the expense of your health and your family. Even the Bible asks what good it does to gain the whole world and lose your soul. Obviously none.

Still, a lot of us feel the pressure to constantly work, achieve, and get ahead. It’s like the person who said his greatest fear was standing behind Mother Teresa in the final judgment line and hear God tell her, “You know, you should have done more.” In other words, he felt the pressure to keep on doing more and more. It was never enough.

So how do you keep the balance? How do you achieve a great deal without being totally worn out? START BY LOVING YOURSELF. It sounds strange, but when you love yourself, you don’t hurt yourself. You don’t do those things that will destroy your health, your finances, your family, or anything else that is important to you.

Unfortunately, most people don’t love themselves enough to do those things they need to be doing. Most people would rather pursue some fun, unhealthy behaviors and joke about it than do the “right” things.

Take your health, for example. Do you love yourself enough to really take care of your health, or do you joke about how you abuse your health? One person said, “Seven days without pizza makes one weak.” Someone else said, “One of life’s greatest mysteries is how a two-pound box of candy can make you gain five pounds.” I suppose that’s why one person said, “Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.”

If that’s the way you take care of yourself, then you can join the crowd that says, “Life not only begins at forty, it begins to show.” Or as my Aunt Ella used to say, “I’m in shape. Round is a shape.”

So if you want balance in your life, you start by loving yourself. You simply but firmly decide that you are worth taking care of. Then you need to MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY. You can’t leave self-care to those times you’re so exhausted that you have no other choice. You have to make self-care a life-style. If you don’t, don’t expect to stay where you’re at. What does not slowly improve will slowly get worse.

A good way to make self-care a priority is to periodically test yourself. Instead of living on autopilot, not even thinking about your balance or lack of it, take a look at the choices you’re making each day. Every choice takes you closer to or further away from your goal of self-care. Ask yourself, “Where did my choices take me today?” If you don’t like your answers, make some new choices tomorrow.

Finally, DEVELOP A SUPPORT NETWORK THAT WILL KEEP YOU ON TRACK. Let others know that you’re serious about self-care and life balance. Let them know you would appreciate them holding you accountable.

Be specific. Ask for what you need. Maybe you need a friend to call you each day to keep you on track. Or maybe you need a certain line of questioning to get you back on track. But tell your support group how they can support you.

You only get to go around once in this world. How well you go around will be largely determined by how well you take care of yourself. So go out there and do it. Love yourself enough to take care of yourself.

Action:  Select five people that know you and know about healthy living. Ask them to give you some honest feedback. Ask for their perceptions as to how much you seem to love yourself and how well you take care of yourself. Ask them for one piece of advice that would help you live a healthier, more balanced life, and then give their advice a try.