Three Steps to Making Yourself a Priority in 2023
Happy New Year, everyone!
I always look forward to the start of a new year. While the holidays are filled with their own unique magical charm and chaos, there’s just something special about taking one last look back before you leap into the new year. A sense a excitement and curiosity takes over for me, which leads to a unique kind of hopefulness and sense of possibility.
The leap was especially meaningful for me because of the incredible grief I experienced in the last year. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’ve been pretty open about the loss of my parents before the holidays in 2021. Spending months going back and forth between Germany and the US during peak pandemic surges followed by countless hours in hospitals and hospice was beyond stressful and exhausting emotionally, physically and mentally. By this time last year, I felt so completely drained. I’d never really lost anyone before, and to have that first experience with grief come with losing both parents in less than a month of each other was overwhelming.
Give Yourself the Gift of Grace, Compassion, and Kindness
I had the good sense to tune out anyone that had a lot of expectations simply because I had nothing left to give. Instead, I sought out those that were ready to offer the support I needed, and leaned on the family and friends with an empathetic ear that really listened.
The closest people in my life helped me realize that the best thing I could do to replenish my energy was to show myself a little grace, compassion and kindness. I was fortunate enough to be able to go down this path, which led to a break the last couple months of 2021 through the first half of 2022. You can read a little bit more about that here.
I don’t think I can adequately express my eternal appreciation to everyone for encouraging this hiatus. Family, friends, and even customers were so supportive and I’m eternally grateful for that support.
Bring the Focus Inward
I spent months just resting, and as you can imagine, it felt very unnatural to focus inward for such a long time. I was raised to focus on the needs of everyone around me, which led to me completely ignoring myself in a lot of ways and it's no surprise I grew up to become a bonafide people-pleaser. I’ve spent the last several years trying to shed those bad habits, and it’s left me with a keen sense of those around who do the same thing. It’s often women, but men are also prone to this behavior. In general, people are always expected to think of others before themselves, and often it’s the right thing to do.
But not always.
We have a responsibility to ourselves and those around us to find healthy ways to take care of our needs, emotional and otherwise. When you focus on everyone else all the time, you start lose yourself, which will slowly exhaust your energy reserves over time until there’s nothing left to give. It’s an insidious cycle, and because it happens little by little over years and years, it’s really hard to identify and change.
Spending time focusing inward was a major disruption from the norm for me, but it was also the catalyst for some very positive changes that found their way into the rest of my life.
Greater Creativity and Sense of Self
By the end of it, I noticed a vivid creative clarity that wasn’t there before, along with a better sense of how I fit into the world, and most surprisingly, a stronger sense of self emerged. I felt so much more self confident and self assured that I ever have before. I’ve always had a tendency to buck tradition, but it was always something that made me feel incredibly insecure and I never used to feel good doing it. I always felt that it meant there was something wrong with me and that I needed to be what everyone else expected, even if it wasn’t what I needed or wanted.
Even though the last year was filled with profound sorrow and overwhelming loss, spending that time finding balance and grounding myself emotionally, physically and mentally eventually allowed me to be uniquely in tune with the positive energy around me in meaningful ways big and small. Being so tuned into these moments slowly changed my frame of mind, and allowed a kind of openness and clarity that I haven’t experienced before. I think it was the first time in my life where I completely let go of what others expected of me and didn’t judge myself harshly for it. It allowed me the time and clarity to listen to exactly what I needed in this moment to move forward.
This new spirit of self has woven its way into my work, personal life and relationships in so many positive ways, and I’m so grateful to have been able to turn one of the worst experiences I’ve ever experienced into a catalyst for positive change.
Don’t be Shy - Make Yourself a Priority
Making myself a priority was a transformative experience, but you don’t need to have a major tragedy in life to make the change. While it was the catalyst that started the process for me, I’ve discovered a few things that really helped keep the momentum going that can have a similar effect:
- Taking Vacations: One week is good, but two weeks is better. Three weeks is better still! I think you get the idea. It took me a really long time to get out of my old thought patterns, and getting completely away from my typical schedule was an important part. Going on a personal holiday on a regular basis can really help rejuvenate your energy and get you in tune with yourself and your needs long term.
- Reserve a Few Days for Yourself a Month: Whether it’s a full weekend or simply a day off, having some regular time every month where you have time to yourself to do something you love can help you keep the momentum going in between those longer breaks and will give you time to recharge throughout the month.
- Give Yourself Some Time Everyday: A little self care goes a long way! Do something little for yourself everyday that you can do without interruption that you find calming, grounding or fun! From morning stretches to meditation or workouts, these little moments make a big difference in the long run. It doesn't have to be long - even thirty second breathing exercises can do the trick. The goal here is to check in with yourself and see how you're doing and what you need from the day. For me, this comes in the form of my morning and bedtime skincare routines.
Do you see the pattern?
The goal here is to pepper those beautiful little moments of looking after yourself into your day, month, and year on a regular basis. Make it a habit! Once I realized the benefits, it became much easier to do. It’s really helped to keep me rebuild myself mentally, emotionally and physically during the most tumultuous time in my life.
And I hope it can help you, too.
Let 2023 be the year that you start listening to your needs and making yourself a priority.
If you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share, I'd love to hear them. Add them in the comments and share the love!