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Healthy Selfishness: How To Stop People-Pleasing and Start Prioritizing Yourself

Chances are, you can name one thing you could be doing to take care better care of yourself. And despite knowing that drinking more water/meditating each day/ flossing your teeth is good for you, I’m willing to bet that you’re still not doing it.

It's likely because:

  1. You don’t have enough time
  2. It’s inconvenient or annoying
  3. The advantages/disadvantages are too far in the future to seem relevant
  4. It tastes/feels like crap
  5. It would involve saying “no” to something or someone else

I often write about issues #1-3 when discussing procrastination, time management, or motivation.

But, today I’m doing a deep dive into issue #5: Setting Boundaries. Or, as I like to call it, “how to say “no” to them and “yes” to me without seeming like a selfish jerkface.”
(And sorry, I can’t do much about Issue #4. Kale will never taste like a cupcake.)

Like most people, I care what people think. I care whether my friends think I’m supportive and I care whether the guy at the bakery judges me when I ask him to write affirmations in icing on the 5” chocolate cake I buy for myself (true story!)

Unlike most people, I’ve accepted and internalized that self-care needs to be my biggest priority. But that wasn’t always true. For most of my life, I put others first only to be surprised when I’d get sick, feel disappointed, burn out, etc. I assumed that I felt sick, tired, or sad because of the job, the boyfriend, or the autoplay feature on Netflix. But, like all things, the common denominator was me. If I wanted to feel balanced and blissful, I was the one that needed to change.

As we all know, change sucks and is never easy.

A lifetime of saying “yes,” people-pleasing, and over-achieving wasn’t going to change overnight. In fact, it was so ingrained in me that I often didn’t even know I was saying “yes” when I really meant “no.” Over time, all of those yeses added up to exhaustion, frustration, and unmet expectations. I struggled to find a way to support others sustainably without compromising my health and happiness.

Once I accepted that I was my biggest obstacle, I started looking at the ways I kept these patterns alive. And that’s when it hit me: I was giving away my time and energy, telling people I had no expectations when I most definitely expected them to reciprocate my actions in the future. I’d tell friends “of course, I don’t mind picking you up from the airport,” only to feel disappointed waiting for a cab in the dead of winter.

If my life is the result of my actions and non-actions, then changing my life is also within my control.

From that moment, I started employing a strategy that changed my life. It empowered me to communicate effectively, transform my relationships, and create more energy, happiness, and time. Here it is:

Is your “yes” really a “no?”

The goal of this exercise is to identify, manage, and communicate your needs so that you’re better able to prioritize yourself.

1. Pause.

Before offering to help, accepting an invitation, or saying “yes,” ask yourself:

  1. Am I prepared to do this without any hope that it will be returned to me in any shape or form (now or in the future?)
  2. What will this cost me now? 6 months from now? (consider your time, energy, and sanity)
  3. Is my desire to say “yes” driven by generosity or because I think that prioritizing myself will result in a negative outcome?

2. Decide.

If you can’t act without expectation, consider the cost.
If the cost is too great, consider your reason.
If your reason is based in fear, consider yourself more.

Simply put, decide whether saying “yes” to them means saying “no” to you. If so, choose to prioritize yourself.

3. Communicate.

State your boundary clearly, directly, respectfully, without qualifying statements or rationales. Saying “I can’t work late on the project today” is more effective than “I can’t work late because my cousin’s friend’s baby is having a birthday party, but I will work on the project when I get home at 10pm.”

4. Maintain.

The other person’s reaction has nothing to do with you. Avoid the temptation to weaken or take back your response. Doing so damages your self-trust, continues to prioritize others, and teaches others that your words have no meaning.

5. Reinforce.

You may need to remind yourself and others of your boundaries. That’s okay! Putting yourself first is a new behavior and will take practice and patience.

Use this tool to ensure you're creating space for yourself, your needs, and your happiness.

One more thing...

I want to hear from you! I’m committed to creating content that address your exact needs. Fill out this quick survey and get the time tracking worksheet only available to Take Back Your Time participants. This worksheet will help you identify your secret time-wasters, giving you the info you need to prioritize yourself more effectively.

Expecting the Unexpected (& Accepting the Unacceptable)

Wow! A HUGE thank you to everyone who checked out Video #1 of the Take Back Your Time Video Training Series! All your visits and shares #BrokeTheInternet. Okay, maybe not to the same degree as a certain celebrity, but 18 hours of server upgrades feels just as newsworthy to me! I can't tell you how much it means to me and since my platform doesn't consider emoticons to be "English language characters," I'll simply say "Thanks!"

If you've been reading the Blog for a while, you know that I pride myself in my ability to plan things out and expect the unexpected. I'm the type of person who has a Plan A-Z (and a backup battery, parachute, and emergency snack - just in case!) 

And while this serves as a (somewhat) healthy outlet for my neuroticism, it also creates an "expectation hangover" when things don't work out according to plan. The truth is that no amount of preparation ever prepares us for the unknown.

Think back to the last time you "braced" yourself for something - it could be for "a bumpy ride," a fun night out, or, if you're like me, for allergy season. 

Were you in any way, shape, or form "braced" by your expectations? Or did they serve to keep you stressed while you tried to control the uncontrollable. Whether it's other people, planets in "retrograde," or Proxy Servers, sometimes you need to throw some healthy detachment at it and just say "F*ck It!" Because the truth is that acceptance doesn't mean you're okay with your circumstances, it means you're able to:

  • Accept the things you can't change
  • Use courage to change the things you can, and
  • Have the wisdom to know the difference.  

The Serenity Prayer isn't just for 12-Step meetings. It's also what gives you the ability to deal with challenging people, to leave a job that's not right, or to stop hitting refresh when you're waiting for a website update. So here's

The Takeaway:

Sometimes things don't go according to plan. The key to learning from mistakes is figuring out what what you can do, what you can't do, and then calling customer service.

Curious to see the video that broke my server?

*fingers crossed*

The Real Cost of Procrastination (and A Special Announcement!)

Behind The Scenes of the "Take Back Your Time" Video Training Series. Thank you  Mark Thompson  for your amazing video work!

Behind The Scenes of the "Take Back Your Time" Video Training Series. Thank you Mark Thompson for your amazing video work!

I fully own the irony of this post. So, in the spirit of self-disclosure, I freely admit that I engaged in some fear-based procrastination.

How is that ironic? Because I procrastinated the final piece of a Free Video Training Series on: 

  • Time Management Systems & Tools
  • The Secrets to Prioritizing
  • And...you guessed it...How to Stop Procrastinating.

Sure, there a million reasons (excuses) why I waited:

  1. My life was insanely busy between clients, LMSW training & clinical hours, and a heartfelt attempt as a social life.
  2. I wanted more time and energy to put toward creating the most valuable training for my readers and clients that I possibly could.
  3. I was terrified. What if things didn't turn out how I planned? What if there were tech glitches? What if people saw how awkward, nervous, and human I really am?

As my thoughts spiraled, I took a deep breath and asked myself: "What would I tell a client in this situation to do?"

Thankfully, I didn't have to stretch my imagination too far. I'm lucky enough to work with smart, motivated, and incredibly talented people. And since I created this training to help them take back their time, shift their mindset, and bust through their roadblocks, I took my own advice and recommitted to the tools and systems that helped me manage my ADD, deal with Depression, overcome obstacles, and ultimately, create a life I love. 

Sometimes, we all get off track. And seeing how these systems helped me to overcome my fears and excuses in such a short time, I became even more excited to stop procrastinating so I could share this training with you.

So last week, after Mark graciously (and patiently) spent 10.5 hours recording/rerecording/assuring me that I don't have lipstick on my teeth, I wondered why on earth I waited so long. 

It felt amazing to create something I love. So why did I wait? And what did all that waiting cost me? 

Time is a commodity much like money. And that got me thinking:

How much money do we lose by not living and working to our full potential?

I started doing some digging and number-crunching to figure out the cost of my procrastination. The results were astounding.

The average person admits to wasting 2.09 hours each workday on non-job-related activities (according to CNBC). Even with a boss, even in the structure of a work environment, that’s close to 30% of the workday gone! And, if you work from home or you're an entrepreneur you can double or triple that.

So let's be honest, how much time and money do you waste each day? 

Let’s say you’re an office worker who earns $60K per year. Let’s also assume you're like most people and your procrastination, Facebook addiction, and general socializing add up to the average 2.09 hours per day:

The Cost of Your Procrastination is $15,642.40!

Now let’s say you work for yourself and you don’t have the structure of a boss and work environment:

The Cost to Your Business: $31,284.80 (Double)
or Even $46,927.20 (Triple!)

The solution is that none of us can do it on our own. We need the tools, systems, and structure to ensure that we're spending our time doing the things we need to do and want to do (It doesn't have to be a sacrifice!)

Why This Matters For You:

You need the tools to stop procrastinating and the systems to help you manage your time effectively. Don't worry, it's not just you. We all need it!

Free training to ‪Take Back Your Time‬ begins May 10th. 

To get Free VIP Access, click here.

At the end of the day, you’re going to spend a certain amount of money either wasting time or ensuring that you don’t waste time.

The choice is yours.