Choose Yourself First
How to find your center and bring calm to your world despite all the chaos going on around you.
When I look back at 2016, I can truly say that it was one of the most interesting years of my life. As an entrepreneur, I found myself busy and taking on much more than I should have. Years earlier I had made a commitment to myself that I was going to slow down the pace of my life and get my priorities straight. Honestly, I did very well for a few years. However, 2016 was the year that I really started to fall back into bad habits. I found myself exhausted and I knew my body was telling me it was time to slow down. Despite all of the signs I continued to go full steam ahead because of the super person complex that I have as an overachiever. By mid October I found myself completely burned out and empty with nothing left to give. One important conversation with a dear friend put everything into perspective for me.
- You need people in your life that love you enough to tell you the truth. The signs were there all along. However, I was too busy to pay attention to the signs. All my life I have been an overachiever. I have pushed myself to the be the best in everything that I do. I’ve built a business and a brand that is recognized around the world. I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish. On the other hand, I am not always proud of the pace that I have chosen. It was getting close to the end of the year with deadlines looming, contracts to be signed and new projects to be started. I just did not feel like I had the strength to do anything else. Right after Thanksgiving I reached out to a very close friend of mine. We had a heart to heart. This friend expressed concern about the frantic pace of my life and the lack of rest and relaxation. I told the person that they were exactly right and how I vowed in 2017 to do things differently. While I thought that would be the end, my friend made me promise to stay accountable. This friend is holding me to my commitment and checking in with my all the time. I’m thankful for this friend because sometimes we have to hear hard truths. Somewhere in our minds we tell ourselves that we are invincible. As I gain more wisdom in my life, I realize that I am not invincible and that I need to slow down and learn to relax more.
- Stress has to be managed or it will destroy you. As 2016 was coming to a close, I still had so much to do. I had so many decisions to make and I was feeling pressure from everywhere. A lot of people like the trappings of success but do not understand the track to success. I had projects, partnerships, ideas and contracts that were all requiring my attention. Everyone was contacting me and it was only a few weeks before Christmas. I was working an insane schedule and I had a lot on my mind. One day as I was working something disturbing happened. I was completing some work and thinking of all the things that I needed to do. The more I thought about all the decisions the more stressed I became. I could feel my heart racing and my stress level rising. For almost thirty minutes I did not know if I was having a heart attack or anxiety attack. I continued to work but I became concerned because my heart would not slow down. Finally, I was able to collect myself and that day I knew something had to change in my life. I came to the realization that I have to learn to manage my stress. Worry that grows becomes stress. Stress that you do not manage will destroy your life. I made a decision that I was going to once again get my priorities straight.
- You must learn that some things are out of the scope of your control. My health scare in 2016 was one of the biggest wake up calls of my life. I am the person that teaches people about not worrying and not stressing. However, I found myself becoming that person. It troubled me and I knew that I had to make some important decisions moving forward. I was reminded that day of the importance of letting go. You can only control what is in the scope of your control. When you move beyond the scope of your control you lose your center. When you lose your center you throw your world into chaos. It was not a new revelation to me. On the other hand, this was the first time I really embraced that truth in my life. The key to living life at its best is learning to accept the things that you cannot control.
- You must learn the power of no. The thing that was so interesting about this is that I have preached this lesson for years. Many people have shared personal stories with me about how my teachings on this subject transformed their lives. Yet I still found myself slipping back into old habits. We become overwhelmed when we take on more than we should. My desire to help other people has also been my downfall. Often I have accepted more responsibilities than I could personally manage. 2016 was a year that I found myself saying yes too many times. I had commitments to keep and contracts that had to be honored. However, because I refused to say no to other projects, I found myself overwhelmed and stressed to the max. In addition, I was long overdue for a break and the pressure was mounting. Immediately I started to get my priorities straight and saying no. While I am sure not everyone was happy with my response, I had to do what was best for me. Saying no does not make you a bad person. Saying no makes you a human being that understands the power of boundaries in your life.