Do you ever feel frustrated that the things that you need to do in order to stay sane, happy and balanced seem to get relegated to the bottom of the to-do list and ultimately not done?
Lately I have been experiencing that. Certainly we all have experienced temporary crises when we need to focus on matters at hand and we have to let things slide. But when it becomes a lifestyle and the mode of daily operations, there is a problem.
I was reminded by a dear friend to remember to take time to do what I need to do to bring me joy.
It reminded me of the financial advice that one should "pay oneself first, before you pay any other expenses." The idea is that one should put away an amount in savings first and then use the remainder for expenses. If you try financial planning the other way around, saving whatever is left over after expenses, then you will never have amounted much savings. We may be well-intentioned to save but unless we do it first it won't happen.
I think we need to practice that same discipline with our time. First we need to do what is important to us before the time gets snatched away with other matters. Due to various circumstances, it may not be the length of time we want or the mode and mean of our plans. Nonetheless we have to faithfully keep plugging away at what is important to us. Preserve that time, action or deed.
For me the two things that I feel I must do is read my Bible/pray and write. When I don't, I get cranky, depressed and overwhelmed. I get angry with myself for not guarding my time and disappointed over the time "lost" to other endeavors.
When I am able to do those two items daily, my days seem to flow smoothly. I am reasonable, understanding and I am sure as my family can attest, much more pleasant to be around. Some days, I know that I won't be able to spend too much on either activity but a little time goes a long way. Just doing a couple of minutes makes a hectic day seem less crazy.
What about you? Have you ever paid yourself first? In time or finances? What did/does that look like for you? If you are in a place when you cannot pay yourself? Why not? What can be loosened up or rearranged so that you can do so?
The airplane oxygen mask analogy has become a cliche to explain the point of first caring for oneself. (Oxygen Mask Rule: "Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” Reason being- there will be no time to help anyone without your mask. Falling from over 30,000-40,000 feet altitude would cause you to pass out within 15-20 seconds if you do not have your oxygen mask on. )
Yet in essence, paying yourself first in time or money is the practical way one can care for oneself and not experience the helplessness of no savings or no time. If we cannot save enough money to bring about financial peace or cannot do the things that bring us joy then we are existing not living.
If I want to live joyfully then I have to pay myself. First.