I have been thinking about what it really means to take care of oneself. I have read articles about time off and doing very little, getting massages, and saying nice things to myself, but I think it is more than that. I think we have to really look at where we find both peace and joy.
When I survey employees, managers, and leaders about their work and purpose, some of them are truly happy and living into their purpose, but most see working as a required struggle on the path to some day getting to have real purpose. They are frustrated on Monday that the weekend is over and worn out on Friday when the weekend begins. The average American is spending more than 50 hours per month on taking care of their home. This can be laundry, mowing, cleaning, etc. When people escape to vacation, they are stressed about what is going to be waiting for them when they get back and unsure if the vacation will even be worth the overload before and after vacation. This means people are not even really finding peace on vacation. They are just numbing themselves for a few days or a week. This begs the question... what are we doing wrong?
I believe that self-care is more about our ability to find our passion and our fit in life than it is about taking the right vacation or making it to the next weekend. The most fulfilled people I know work lots of hours. But, they work the hours at something they feel is really worthwhile, with people who are driven by a mission, for a cause that gives them energy and doesn't drain them. As I am writing this, I have the day off and I am out of town. I had no plans of NOT doing anything though. My plan wasn't long walks on the beach or fancy meals. My plan was to have time to write, to create, to dream, and to live into my purpose. I believe that in just a few steps, you can identify what will give you the right spark for life and help you to truly take care of yourself. The first question you have to answer is...
Question 1: If you were going to do something in retirement, where money was not the reason for doing it, what would you do? I want you to think of this like it is something you have dreamed of doing and would have loved to have found a way to make a living at it.
Question 2: What values do you want to be remembered for?
Question 3: What actions do you want to be remembered for?
Question 4: What results do you want to be remembered for?
When you can answer these 4 questions with peace in your heart, you have found what would actually take care of you. This world is so caught up in "needing to earn more money" that they have forgotten that nobody will remember you for that when you are gone. When I retire, I want to write books, coach and mentor people to live a better life, and teach programs on finding your potential through leadership, management, entrepreneurship, etc. Oh wait... that's what I do now!
You don't have to wait until you are in your 60's or 70's to transition into what you would have loved to have done your entire life. You can make a life out of following your passion and your dreams now. You don't have to start a business to do what you love either. It is an option, but living into your purpose is more about the values, actions, and results, than the job you hold. In any job, you can find or create the work that fulfills you. Find ways to express your awesome self every day based on what you have to offer the world. The world will take care of you when you embrace what you have to offer the world. Self-care will then become automatic.
Self-care is ultimately becoming your authentic self!