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Insights: Putting yourself first
January 22, 2008

Putting yourself first

It’s that time of the year, when you and I are firmly back at work, our kids, if we have them, are back at school and our lives start to settle back into the same old busy routine we know and love – or hate - so well.

For the more fortunate among us, getting back into ‘the routine’ represents a pleasurable experience and something we have looked forward to over the Christmas holiday period. For many, if not most, however, getting back to ‘the routine’ is a loathsome experience! All the good ideas, resolutions and intentions we made while sunning ourselves, eating slap up meals and partying the night away, go right out the window as we are reminded of just how demanding of our time and energy that same old routine is.

I remember only too well, during my corporate career, the ‘back to Earth with a bump’ feeling that I would get a week or so after arriving back at work all fresh faced and rosy cheeked, full of the joys of the holiday break. All too often, the commitments I had made to myself, with the aim of bringing more joy, richness and meaning to my own life, vanished into obscurity as I began, once more, to confront the stresses and strains brought on by the demands of my employer.

I was always very career driven, determined to give of my best to my employer in the belief that my dedication would pay off with more money, more status and more benefits. This in turn would result in more personal freedom, more enjoyment and more leisure time. Or at least, so I liked to think.

But after many years of the employment routine, it started to dawn on me that although I was earning more money, receiving more benefits and – at least in theory – enjoying a higher status in the company, my continued dedication to realizing someone else’s agenda was giving me less and less freedom, enjoyment and time to myself! Hence the gnawing feeling of discomfort and restlessness as the working year got underway each year.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not slating corporate life in any way. I’d be the first to admit that I worked for a top class employer, was paid a good salary and enjoyed a challenging and varied career. Clearly, there are many excellent employers around who contribute greatly to society.

No, the problem was not with my employer. The problem was, fairly and squarely, with me.

I had made the classic mistake of putting my employer’s requirements and needs ahead of my own. I had reasoned that by diligently doing a good job for my company, my own needs would be taken care of. I had, without consciously realizing it, literally abrogated responsibility for my own personal growth!.

Perhaps this rings true for you? Perhaps you are currently abrogating your responsibility for your personal growth and happiness, assigning it instead to your employer, to your spouse, to your friends, to your church, to your family, to the government?

If so, my message to you is put yourself first – not in a selfish, arrogant way – but in a way that allows the radiant, authentic, joyful you to raise your head and TAKE BACK CONTROL of your life so you can achieve what the inner you truly desires for you.

OK, let me share a little advice that I got from my personal life coach and that worked wonders for me.

Write down, in the most concise and meaningful words you can, a powerful little reminder to yourself, and stick it in a place where you can’t fail to see it every single morning when you get up to face your routine.

Just over a year ago, when I was contemplating a major change in my life, I wrote the following note to myself and stuck it up right next to the kettle of the kitchen in my London flat (as a morning coffee addict, there’s no way I could miss it).


The most important thing this did for me was to provide a constant reminder to put myself first. Again, if this sounds selfish, it isn’t meant to be.

You see, by doing what you instinctively know is good for you and what makes the inner you truly happy, you start to become someone who is more pleasing to be with, more inspiring, more caring, more confident. You grow as a person and you enjoy greater inner peace. And the abundance that life has to offer then ‘magically’ opens up to you.

Perhaps you have been thinking about pursuing a new career as a life coach. A career in which you enjoy tremendous personal growth while you help others to do the same. But perhaps the demands of your current day-to-day routine has deprived you of the time, energy and motivation to make the decision you know you want to.

If so, let me encourage you to put yourself first. Forget for a minute what others may think or say or how it may affect them. Take the action that the inner you knows is right for you. You won’t regret it.

Warm regards


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