2014 is quickly coming to a close and we will soon find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. This time of year often finds us pressing ourselves to set priorities and make lists so we can get to parties, meet with friends and take care of all the things our boss, our spouse or our kids need to navigate the season. We prepare shopping lists for holiday get togethers’, gift lists for giving, to-do lists for visiting guests and maybe even a resolution list for the coming New Year.
These next couple of months will find many of us feeling an additional amount of pressure, on top of life as usual, as we set out a lengthy list of priorities that in the long run, when all is said and done, don’t do much to fill our Souls or nourish our Spirit.
As you prepare to dive into this upcoming holiday season and prepare for a new year, I invite you to consider cutting down your to-do lists to a bare minimum and perhaps make your one and only resolution to stick only to the things on that list.
The list I recommend is very short. It has only two items on it. Can you imagine for a moment how simple things might be if we only had two truly important things to focus on?
Don’t let the lack of stuff to do fool you, for while the list may be short, it is deeply powerful. Each item supporting and nourishing the other in its ability to provide us with meaningful life connection and the energy required to support us through those connections.
Consider making this short priority list your ‘go to’ support system in the upcoming weeks and months … and then based on how you feel as you step into the New Year, I invite you to consider making it a life time promise.
Here it is.
Personal Priority To-Do List:
Priority #1. Self – Care
Priority #2. Service
That’s it. That’s all. Not very confusing or elaborate, but certainly deeply powerful and when used with the understanding held in its reasoning, can be used to support us in the entirety of what we might consider important in our lives.
Let’s take a quick peek at our list:
PRIORITY #1 – SELF CARE
This one always gets a few people jumpy, either because they have a misconception that Self-Care is selfish or that to take the time for Self-Care would deprive too many other people of their needs. Both ideas would be incorrect.
The very definition of CARE is: ‘to do what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something’. It also means: ‘to feel concern or interest; to attach importance to something.’
Truly, what could be more important in our lives than to ‘be concerned or interested in or, attach importance to ourselves?’
When we remember that everything in our lives is sourced from within and reflects back to us based on our own unique level of personal care, the way we treat ourselves and how we make that a priority will radically begin to shift.
True self CARE will take shape in unique ways for all of us. But part of it should include making time for your own personal development, doing some housekeeping on your inner landscape, getting to know, understand and truly appreciate the unique and powerful being that you are and making a commitment to and for yourself to craft some time for things that bring YOU joy.
This may be setting time aside daily for some meditation, reading a wonderful book, or taking a quiet walk. It may be perfecting a sport, learning a new craft or taking time to commune with nature. It should always be a special time to call in energy, to generate the peace of mind that cultivates healing and reduces stress and connects you to your best and highest self.
This is an intentionally created sacred pocket of time where you get to be with you, where you get to re-engage with that small quiet voice that so often tells us to ‘slow down, take a breath and smell the roses.’
Self-care gives you the opportunity to love and serve yourself, to fill up your own reserves of energy and grace and to discover once more the things that have true meaning and value to you. All of these things are crucial if we are to step out into the world as balanced and peaceful individuals.
ARE YOU NUTS?
I know there are many busy people out there whose immediate response to this is, “I don’t have time to smell the roses! I have a to-do list a mile long, I’ve got to focus on the kids and take care of the house. I can’t make the time for Self-care, I’m on a deadline for my client, my boss, my spouse, my family. Self-care??? Are you nuts?”
No. I’m not nuts … I’m looking at the situation from a strictly ‘energetic standpoint.’ Life requires energy, some times a lot of it … Self-Care provides energy, a lot of it, and in a relatively small amount of time. I’m just doing the math.
You cannot serve anyone or anything in your life when you are running on empty.
The very action of setting time aside for mindful self-care amplifies your ability to focus and be present for the very people you want to be present for. It increases the quality of who you can be while engaging with others in your life … and this brings us to…
PRIORITY #2 – SERVICE
A partial definition of serve means: ‘to give the service and respect due’. Respect here is the important word.
We are in service to everyone and everything we engage with in life. As parents, we are in service to our children. As employees we are in service to our employers and our customers. As leaders we are in service to our staff, our clients, our families and our communities. As citizens of the planet we are in service to one another, to the other life forms we share it with and to the planet herself.
Being respectful of anyone or any thing, is very hard when you are exhausted and feeling deprived of love and care. And the outside world is so very busy spinning and doing its own thing, that expecting it or anyone in it, to provide us with the love and care that supports our ability to thrive, is a wasted use of our energy.
I don’t say any of this to be cynical, but rather to shift your point of power back to where it has always resided … within you.
When we make Self-care our #1 priority, we take all of the pressure OFF of the world and the people in it to be responsible for our inner landscape. Think of how much more Grace would be available for all of us if we let everyone off the hook for how we feel. Our sense of well being in every moment would be a personal, inside job and because it is something that we have made a priority, we can step into the world feeling whole and nourished and sustained. Then and only then can we meaningfully Serve.
From this place of balance we can step into every relationship, every situation, every conversation and every PTA or board meeting from a place of fullness and completion. We can engage from a place of knowing that there is nothing we need from that external circumstance, nothing we need to manipulate or control, nothing we need ‘the other’ to give us in order to feel peace.
From here there is no ‘efforting’ to make something happen or to achieve an outcome. From this place of balance, Respect becomes a natural attitude. Appreciation and Love soon follow.
CHOOSE IT FOR YOURSELF
It seems a very simple formula to follow doesn’t it? But most of us have been trained to put ourselves, if not at the bottom of our ‘Care List’, at least solidly in the middle. So I invite you to move yourself to the top of your priority list and do it with a sense of honor and genuine belief that you belong there.
Decide what makes you feel peaceful and give yourself that. Decide what helps you feel beautiful and give yourself that. Decide what brings you joy and give yourself that. Then once you have all of that stuff figured out, apply all of those great feelings to how you connect with the world.
You will discover that with this new feeling of fullness and self appreciation that time moves more smoothly, things require far less effort and people are a pleasure to be around. With this one powerful shift of priorities, you will recognize more care, appreciation and respect in the world, and it is only because you have made it your priority to become it for yourself, first.