This weekend, I had a pretty harsh wake-up call (that cosmic 2×4 that hits you across the face that you never want) and it knocked me to my knees. (There was a lot of crying involved.)
What I realized through the experience was this:
- I have spent WAY too much time the last year (who am I kidding - it's been my entire life) focusing on meeting everyone else's expectations of me. Or more accurately, too much time worrying about pleasing other people, rather than pleasing myself. So much time, in fact, that I'm a bit hazy on exactly what would truly and deeply please me.
- I've literally exhausted myself to the bone in meeting crushing deadlines (and lots of them) that are totally self-imposed, and could be much better controlled than I've been allowing.
- In the past two months, I've had days and weeks of totally losing myself, particularly in the often arduous process of building my business to the next level. Yup, I "lost" myself.
It's crazy. As a trained therapist and a career coach, I spend hours upon hours every week writing, speaking, coaching and training on these very same issues, so it's always a surprise when I fail my own wisdom, and don't follow the awesome advice that I can so easily give to others (and that friends have been trying to share with me for the past six months).
But there's another reminder I needed today - I'm human.
If you feel like you too have been crushed to the ground lately, racing around to please everyone else, and have forgotten how to go about pleasing yourself, I'd like to offer this.
Together, let's go on a "I'm Pleasing Myself!" 30-day challenge.
Let's figure out exactly what pleases us, and start doing more of it, every single day. Let's take a look at the food we eat, the work we do, the people we spend time with, the tasks we engage in, the environment around us, the work culture we're immersed in, the conversations we have, the news we read - the works.
And let's also embrace a strict commitment to deal head-on with our serious addiction to "Pleasing others." I'd love to say "I'm done!" with pleasing others, but I know better. I know that it's not an overnight fix - it's a life-long process. (For more on this important topic of how we deal with inner and outer expectations, read Gretchen Rubin's fascinating book Better Than Before, and stay tuned for my upcoming interview with Gretchen).
Can we do this together? I need a bit of support too. How about we take these six little steps, every single day for 30 days, as our "I'm Pleasing Myself" 30-day challenge:
- Focus on yourself exclusively for 10 minutes at the start of the day- Each morning, before you race off pleasing others, ask yourself "What do I need to do to really please myself today?" Sit with that for 10 minutes, and don't let you mind skirt off to "what do I have to do for my family or my boss?"
- Take control of your obligations and rein them in - Ask yourself, "What deadlines have I self-imposed, that aren't necessary or important to reach?" For each of these, add some more time and push the deadline out so you don't kill yourself getting something done for no good reason.
- Reach out and ask for help - Think about the help you need today, and go out and ask for it. Make that call, write that email, call that friend. Do it.
- Take at least THREE 15-minute breaks (besides meals) - Give yourself more time (three breaks at least) to push away from the computer, get up and stretch, relax, talk to your friend, drink a cup of tea, go outside. Let your body relax. Play with your pet. Take the tension off your neck and shoulders and breathe.
- Be with what you're eating - Don't wolf your food down in 3 minutes while standing up (boy is that a familiar activity). Sit down, get some water, and "be" with your food as you slowly chew it. My grandmother ("Yaya") would say - "Horses eat standing up - sit down!" Don't eat like a horse.
- Say YES to what you love - Wherever you can today, say "NO" to the projects, tasks and activities you hate doing, and "YES!" to more of the work you love. Just say no.
I'm serious about taking this challenge, and I hope you'll join me. Please share below how it goes for you - how long you're able to focus on yourself, how many days you made this happen, and what's in the way of loving and pleasing yourself more and more each day. And let us know what other "I'm Pleasing Myself!" activities you can embrace that fit your life and work.
I have a feeling we'll all be shocked at how this will change our lives for the better. You in?