People often ask me what the most important thing is that they could do to find work they love. Is it doing informational interviews? Going to networking events? Thinking back to your childhood dreams? Figuring out what makes you unique?
All of those things are valuable (although if you hate networking events I hereby give you permission to not go to them. There are other ways!), but the first thing I tell clients to do is make self-care a priority.
I know what you might be thinking. “Self-care? What does that even mean? Sounds kind of woo woo.”
Or “I’m all for self-care, but with a full time job, kids, cooking, cleaning, errands, family obligations, my awful commute — not to mention this career search — who has time? If I had a new job I would have more time for self-care! I need the new job first!”
I hear you.
So many of us feel pulled in a thousand directions, stretched thin from trying to do it all.
And usually, the more stress there is in our lives, the more self-care takes a back burner. Just when we really need it the most.
Finding work you love is a journey with ups and downs. By nature, it’s a time of uncertainty and that can bring up anxieties and fear.
At the same time, finding more meaningful work is a process that requires you to really rediscover and reconnect with who you are and what you want. If you feel run down, burnt out, and chronically exhausted, it’s really hard to connect with any kind of inner wisdom.
The more we neglect our self-care the harder it is to get in touch with that part of ourselves that really knows what makes us happy.
So what do I mean by self-care?
It looks different for every person, but here are four things to keep in mind:
1. It can be simple: In fact, ideally it is simple. Unrealistic goals or a long self-care to do list that you feel pressured to stick to defeat the purpose. Instead, think about the basics. It could be a hot shower, some time alone every day, 8 hours of sleep a night, a weekly call with your best friend, a few minutes in the morning or before bed to just breathe.
2. It includes how you relate to others: In other words, self care can also be about establishing boundaries and learning how to say no when that’s what you really want to say. Self-care is about protecting your time and your energy.
3. Self-care is not selfish: Part of why many of us don’t take care of ourselves is because we’re too busy taking care of other people and things. It can feel selfish to take time for ourselves. But honestly, think about what a better partner, mom, employee, and person you’ll be if you’re not feeling totally stretched thin. And when it comes to finding work you love, it’s going to be a WHOLE lot easier (and more fun) if you’ve got the energy to really invest in the process and are feeling recharged and replenished rather than depleted.
4. It’s important to be consistent: For self-care to really benefit you, it’s got to be something you do every day. If you start to neglect it, don’t beat yourself up (this is about self-care after all!) The more you can stick to the essentials and keep it simple, the easier it is to really make self-care a habit and not something you have to remind yourself to do.
So today, I want to challenge you to think about what self-care means to you.
What do you need each day to feel like YOU? What are your non-negotiables? What changes could you make or what conversations do you need to have to make those a priority?
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