Today I want to talk about putting yourself first. I know this is going to be a controversial topic because everywhere you turn, whether that’s in society or your church, the message is to put others first.
And, while I think it’s important that we do serve and we do give attention to others, it is impossible for us to give all that we’re capable of giving unless we find a way to take care of ourselves.
Consider, for a second, the last plane trip you were on. When the stewardess gave her instructions should the air masks drop from the ceiling, who’s air mask should you put on first? Yours, right? Have you ever thought about why that is?
The fact is, you can’t be much help if you’re unconscious, or dead!
This happens in more common scenarios too though. Men work and work and work, we work 8, 9, 10 , 12 hours per day, we come home and the kids are jumping on us, and our wife is asking for us to fix the leaky faucet, and someone is asking us to help move, then you have to go coach the kids, and, when you’re finally done for the day, you realize it’s time for bed only to wake up and do the same thing over and over again.
If this is you I commend you for wanting to help in so many capacities but you’re going to burn out brother! And, that burnout is going to manifest itself in one of a few ways.
First, you’re just going to stop. You’re going to stop the drive, the motivation, and the ambition. And, you’re going to turn into a lazy slob who sits on the couch all day and eats bon bons or chilli dogs or whatever it is you eat.
Second, and more likely, you’re going to explode. You’re going to say something to one of your clients. You’re going to make a comment to your wife you can’t take back. You’re going to yell at your son or daughter.
Trust me, I know. I’ve done this fellas. I’ve been up to my eye balls in doing other people’s “stuff” and allowing other people to dictate my life. And, you know what’s the worst part? People knew I would help, they knew I would drop everything for them and they started to take advantage of that. Not out of spite but they knew Ryan was a nice guys and he’d be more than willing to help.
I know you guys are in this boat too. I want to give you a couple pointers. I want to give you permission to be a little selfish. I want to give you permission to put yourself first.
Now, I know a lot of you are saying, “I don’t need permission.” You’re right, you don’t. But, I want to ask you then, why aren’t you putting yourself first? Why aren’t you doing things for you?
I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say “I have obligations.” “I have people counting on me.” “People need my help.”
And, while I agree that may may be true, you’re only saying that because you’ve ALLOWED yourself to be at the mercy of what everyone else wants regardless of how you feel about it.
So, here’s the disclaimer for those of you who think I’m being too harsh – too selfish: I want you to help people. I want you to serve. I want you to do that in a way that’s meaningful to you. And, I want you to be able to sustain your service.
At the rate you’re going, how long will you be able to.
Alright, so let’s break this down….
First, I need you guys to start getting clear about what you actually want. I know I’ve talked about this over and over and over again, but it seems there’s a lot of you who STILL haven’t taken the time to find out what you truly want out of life.
“Ryan, I know there’s more but I don’t know how to find it.”
Here’s how you find it: you start looking for it. You start planning. You start thinking. You start strategizing. Your dreams aren’t going to knock on your door and hit you over the head. You’ve got to go out and tackle that.
See, what’s happening is your allowing yourself to be used in others’ dreams because you’re too lazy, or stubborn, or busy to find your own.
Take time every single day and reflect upon what you want and start working towards it.
Next, make your default answer ‘no.’ I know you want to say ‘yes.’ I know you want to be helpful. I know you want to do good by your family, neighbors, and community but can you really afford ONE MORE THING on your plate?
Besides, when you keep adding to your plate, can you really serve the other people you’ve already committed to?
I used to be involved in three local charities. A fourth came to me and asked if I’d sit on their board. I really wanted to. I really believed in what they were doing. I really thought I could maybe make it work. But, then I started thinking about my family. And, I started thinking about the other organizations I belonged to. It made the decision to say ‘no’ really easy. And, guess what? They found someone else and all was well.
Say ‘no’ more often.
Next, carve out personal time. I don’t care if it’s in the morning (that’s what I would suggest because you can do it before anyone else is awake) or an afternoon nap or golf session or whatever as long as you carve out time for YOU, only you. Be selfish here. Do exactly what you want to do. If you want to invite some friends, great but do what YOU want to do.
Find something that energizes you, that drives you, that will allow you to come back to your obligations re-energized.
I used to play basketball with some of the guys every Tuesday night and, each week, without fail, we’d have someone show up late or not at all. When we’d ask them about it, they’d always say something to the effect of “my wife wouldn’t let me leave” or “I had to take care of some things.” That’s bull!
You need a way to get that figured out. You let your wife know this is time for YOU. You can fix the toilet later. She can put the kids to bed that night. Sure it takes communication but, as you know, we talk a lot about that too.
I can’t get into all the nuances of putting yourself first but I can promise you, as we wind things down today, you will be a better man when you get a bit more selfish with your time. You’ll be a more significant husband. You’ll be a more engaged father. You’ll be a more profitable businessman. You’ll be a more well-rounded man.
So, that’s it for today guys. Here are your marching orders. First, carve out 15 minutes EACH day to think and plan about what YOU want, practice saying ‘no’ to as many “opportunities” as you can this coming week, and, last, find time in your week every day for something that engages YOU. Don’t worry about anyone else – just you.
Get after it guys. I did everything for everybody for a long time and for a long time, I was frustrated with the way my life was going. It wasn’t until I learned to take care of myself first, that I became the husband, father, and business owner I wanted to be.