Do you keep promising yourself you’re going to start working out next week? Why is it always next week? Are you too busy driving your kids to school, from school, to practice, from practice? How are you ever going to make time for yourself? The truth is you’re not.
Unless you make a decision right now to make yourself a priority. Otherwise, there will always be another project, another birthday party, another commitment to someone that isn’t you. You could live your whole life this way, or you can start making yourself a priority today.
I’m a cardiologist, some weeks I work close to 120 hours, so I know it can be hard to take care of yourself when you’re too busy working or taking care of your kids or your significant other or all the other important people in your life.
When I’m working that much, I find it hard to focus on things like eating healthy and working out, they just don’t seem that important. But the negative effects of not taking care of myself are never good. I find whenever I stop eating healthy for more than a week I start putting on weight. So over the years, these are the things that I’ve found that help me make me a priority that can help you make you a priority too.
- Decide what your #1 priority for yourself is. Just pick one thing. You can’t simultaneously work on five different things at the same time and realistically make progress on all of them. I’ve tried it; it doesn’t work. What will happen is you’ll end up accomplishing things that were less important to you at the expense of things that were more important to you.
- Write down your #1 priority every day. This could be in a journal, a planner, on your calendar or even just a Post-It note. Writing it down every day, preferably at the beginning of the day, will help you remember your #1 priority because it’s easy to forget when other people start demanding your time and energy.
- Tell someone you can count on to be your accountability partner. I usually tell my mom or my sister. Then ask your accountability partner to check in with you once a month, like the first of the month or a day that’s easy for you both to remember. This will help you review what happened, what worked and what didn’t and it can help you troubleshoot problems that are stopping you from making yourself a priority.
- Plan for obstacles. For example, if you have trouble losing weight because you grab fast food when you’re running late try planning out your meals for yourself and your family on Sunday and consider a delivery grocery or meal service so that you always have something ready to go even when you’re late.
- Know when to say no. Once you set one specific priority, then you’ll know when to say no. If your #1 priority for yourself is to lose weight and your office mate brings you freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, you know what to say. You know to say no because it moves you away from your #1 priority of losing weight. Bonus points if you can actually say that out loud, so your office mate stops bringing you cookies. Being honest out loud is hard.
- Stop feeling guilty. I know it’s hard because you don’t like letting people down but if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be your best to take care of other people
- Try something new for a few weeks. If it doesn’t work try something else. Like if you’re trying to eat healthy try changing what you eat for breakfast for a few weeks, if that doesn’t work try changing what you eat for lunch instead. If it’s really your #1 priority, then keep trying different things until you find something that works.
- Hit pause when you start to feel frustrated. When you feel yourself getting frustrated don’t crash and burn. Instead, take a break and start again next week.
The day to change is today. Why? Because let’s be real every year there are going to be more commitments, more catastrophes, more obligations. You’ll never again have less to do than you do today. That’s real life. So it’s now or never.
What if you do nothing? Then next year you can be in the exact same place you are today. But you don’t have to be. Losing weight or whatever your #1 priority for yourself is is within your reach and it will always be worth going after.
The most important thing I can say from my experience as a cardiologist is to start small. Start with baby steps. It can be easy to get super excited and try to make sweeping changes for one day or even for one month. But for most people that won’t last a lifetime. Start with one small change that you can commit to this week and next week and next year and the year after. Your goal is to commit to your #1 priority to yourself long term.
Is eating out with your friends making you fat? Here’s my guide on How to Enjoy Eating Out and Still Lose Weight