The Secret to Prioritizing Yourself

Posted on: Jun 14, 2018

Not sure how to prioritize yourself? It doesn’t start with having more time—it starts with giving yourself permission.

Last Saturday, I spent six hours in the morning driving my kids between the ACT, play practice, high school orientation, and the pool. Six. Hours.

I’m always so excited for summer, but when the trees have all their leaves and the pool opens, I find that I’m just as bogged down with obligations—to drive people, to answer calls, to sort through business bills—as I was before. Obligations like these can make us think that we don’t have permission to take time for ourselves or to do what we really love. That’s why, for the past two summers, I’ve decided to prioritize myself and pursue my gifts and yearnings.

I call it The Canvas Project, which is a special, set-aside amount of time to create or experience the things that feed your soul. This summer, I’m sharing it with you! Each week, I post a video to guide you through your own summer experience in my Facebook Group Creative Uncovery. We’re on our second week, but it’s never too late to join! Based on what I talked about in this week’s video, I wanted to share with you an exercise that allows you to uncover the obligations that are holding you back and your own secret to giving yourself permission.

Permission Exercise

  1. Think of a scenario in your life that is happening today where you’re stuck in an untrue story that you might be telling yourself. It could be in the realm of work, parenting, partnership or marriage, creativity or anything else. Write down that scenario.

My scenario: I spent the first part of my career as an actress and singer. I had no children and lots of free time to focus on me.  I then ventured into motherhood and as is my nature, I threw myself zealously into that new role. My acting career took a seat in the green room as my mothering career took center stage.  Fast forward to today, a decade later. I would love to step back onstage, and yet I continue to tell myself that my age is a factor, that everyone has forgotten me, I’m “out of sight, out of mind”, and I may not have the energy or bandwidth for this rebirth of my acting career.  Was I ever any good anyway?

Make a list of all the stories you are telling yourself around the scenario. Ex: I can’t do __________. I’m not ready for ______________. Nobody cares if I ___________. Etc.

The stories I tell myself: I am too old, I am irrelevant, I am too busy, Am I even talented anymore? I never was all that special anyway. Acting doesn’t bring in a ton of money. Why bother? Have I wasted my most marketable years?

3. Next, invite in your most compassionate and wise self to emerge. Ask him or her to answer the bigger questions as an exercise in going inward, reaching down to the depths of your most authentic self. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What are you not allowing yourself to have?
  • What are these stories really about?
  • Is there a  theme?
  1. Write down what permissions can you give yourself to begin to tell a new story. If you’re having trouble, answer the following:
  • You are allowed to __________.
  • It is okay to __________.
  • Here’s my list of permissions.

It’s okay to: Say no, go slowly, primp, be lazy, take care of yourself (first), laugh out loud, be imperfect, make mistakes, fail,  take up space, change directions, do nothing, be silly, ask for do-overs, leave the dishes, declare your truth, ignore the rules, pick first, get rid of the crazymakers, play, ask for exactly what you want,  rest when tired, fall apart, choose you, make more money, be ageless, be happy, eat junk, shine your light, be fragile, release the past, show up as you are, grieve, be weird, tell your story, follow your gut, be angry, love what you do, be fearless, be you and let it be enough.

But permission doesn’t work alone.

Once you’ve identified and pushed aside some obligations and even given yourself permission to do what you love, making yourself a priority is a practice that requires commitment and discipline.  An emotional discipline—which is the toughest.  

Some people are wired to be self-disciplined, thorough and eager to finish projects, while others struggle with consistency and completion. Most of us fall somewhere in-between and have tendencies and resistances that help or hurt us. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, here are three ways I’ve found that help me stay disciplined:

  • Be gentle with yourself. Encourage yourself to keep going and stay true to your path as if you’re  speaking to your best friend or child.
  • Find a buddy.  Find a friend to take this journey with you.  Uncovering your creativity is best when navigated together.
  • Start over and over and over. It is ok to be less than perfect, it is ok to not follow through and it is ok to mess up.  Real discipline comes when you give yourself grace and the permission to start over.

If you’re wanting more support and encouragement in your journey, hop on over to my Facebook Group! Just click here to join.