I recently started investing more and more time into myself every day. I started listening to what my body and my mind need, focusing on what makes me feel good, and aiming toward a life where I make myself happy and others add to that happiness rather than define it. This all started from a cycle I felt stuck in almost two years ago.
Two years ago, I was saying yes to any social plan that I was invited to, I was attending every work social event, I was eating a diet that restricted many of the things I liked, and I was honestly just not happy even though I was telling myself that I was. All of these things together created the perfect storm that resulted in me doing things that I thought would make me happy, or things that I saw other happy people doing. Funny because that’s not at all how it works.
It turns out that I wasn’t really putting myself first. I was putting the needs and wants of other people on my back as if they were my own. I was seeing the perfect social media feeds of people traveling, eating salads every day, and influencers with six packs that claimed it was really easy. I was aiming for someone else’s goals rather than setting my own because I never took the time to reflect on what serves me.
I had to make a major mindset shift and be a little more “selfish.”
1. Notice Trends & Focus on Your Needs
Knowing your needs and knowing that you’re doing your best to serve them leads you to feeling self-fulfilled and like you’re doing yourself a favor, even if in the moment your gut says to do the opposite.
It can be really easy to give in to every feeling that you have and just as easy to ignore them in light of something you deem more important. Both of these actions can be detrimental to your mental health if you don’t keep yourself in check.
When I notice that a trend starts to form, such as opting for watching TV alone rather than going for drinks with friends, I reflect on WHY the urge to be alone beats out the urge to socialize. If you’re constantly saying no to plans with someone, maybe:
- It isn’t the plan, but the someone that’s inviting you
- you’re just the type who doesn’t like to go out and drink
- you just need some time to recharge and not socialize
All of the above reasons are valid. Whatever the reasoning is, take the time to reflect and find out WHY you’re saying no. This will make you more in tune with your feelings and it will also help to make sure the people and the activities in your life actually serve your needs.
I can play the devil’s advocate here and say that sometimes when you’re feeling the urge to say no to plans, it may actually make sense for you to say yes to them anyway. Say you move to a new place and you’re the type that likes their alone time, but you also like having friends. Giving into that immediate urge every weekend to spend time alone won’t serve your need of having friends. This is where being in tune with yourself and checking in makes a difference.
2. Build Trust with Yourself
Be aware of when you’re letting yourself down because you have a consistent lack of follow-through on commitments you make to yourself.
We talk so often about how much trust we have in our friends and other people, but not often how we trust ourselves.
Let’s start with how we build trust. How do you build trust with a person you just met, or even a friend you’ve had for many years? They show up for you. They show up when you need them, they are reliable, they follow-through on agreed upon plans, they listen to you. Why is it any different when you’re talking about yourself?
I’m sure you’ve been in a place where you’ve constantly told yourself “I’ll work out tomorrow” and tomorrow never came. Well, each time you tell yourself that statement and you don’t follow-through with it, you burn trust with yourself a little bit. Over time, committing to things where you won’t follow through will make it that much harder to commit in the first place.
Let’s say a friend makes a plan to go to happy hour with you next week, and then they cancel the day before just to reschedule it to the week after. If they cancel the second time, would you reschedule a third? Probably not, because your trust that they will actually show up has been burned. Well, the “I’ll work out tomorrow” situation is you doing that exact thing to yourself.
Start with realistic commitments that you know you will follow through on. You can still start with “I’ll work out tomorrow” but maybe commit to just walking on a treadmill for 15 minutes or doing a quick jog – don’t commit to working out at 6am for an hour, knowing you’re going to snooze that alarm. The more you follow through on commitments, the easier it gets to make goals and reach them since you have a history of follow-through and don’t want to let yourself down. This shift has a lot to do with habit building, something I want to write more blogs on later.
3. Stop Thinking, Start Doing
Thinking about how to get to your goal and not taking action is doing nothing to help you reach it. You don’t want to “wish you started sooner” once you realize all that overthinking wasn’t worth it.
This one is BIG for me. I am an indecisive overthinker and there’s plenty of things I’ve thought about doing that seem unreachable, too difficult, or scary – blogging included. The first time you do anything, it’s scary and difficult and there are a lot of unknowns.
How are you supposed to understand how to do something without trying? This is the key for me. I would think and think and think about doing things like changing jobs, starting a blog, or learning a new skill and I would get exhausted by the idea of how I would approach doing those things or all of the reasons I feel I shouldn’t do them.
Excuses. Excuses are the main cause of quitting at the starting line. “What if I don’t like writing?” “What if people think my blogs are weird?” (idk, do you think they’re weird?? lol lmk)
I still wouldn’t know if I could do these things or if these excuses were actually valid until I tried. The best part about trying is you set a baseline or a starting point and then you can make actionable steps to getting to your goal.
Our minds can be our worst enemy and they can hold us back from doing things that might serve us better than all the thinking we’re doing now.
You want to change jobs? Start looking – see what’s out there.
You want to start a blog? Stop reading about blogs – try writing a couple blog posts.
You want to learn something new? Stop talking about it – seek out help (videos, skilled people)
The key is to stop yourself from always saying “I wish I could” or “I wish I had the time” and start making the time to do things that serve you.