How to Put Yourself First

As women, we find it really difficult to remember our own happiness in addition to everyone else's. Frankly, we're terrible at putting ourselves first. We give, give, give but forget to give to ourselves.
10/14/2014 01:11 pm ET Updated Dec 14, 2014

Are you always taking care of everyone else and forgetting to put yourself first? I'll show you how to make your happiness a priority without feeling guilty about it.

Throughout the week, how often do you put yourself first? What about over the course of a month?

As women, we find it really difficult to remember our own happiness in addition to everyone else's. Frankly, we're terrible at putting ourselves first. We give, give, give but forget to give to ourselves.

I recently heard this quote from my mentor Gina DeVee:

As women, we tell ourselves that all we deserve are the crumbs. We only give to ourselves when everyone else has been given to. That's when we tell ourselves we deserve to receive. Give to yourself today instead. If you wait, then all that's left over is the crumbs. -- Gina DeVee

I don't know about you, but that definitely resonates with me.

Part of putting yourself first is by making time for the things you love to do that truly make you happy.

So be honest -- are you someone who always puts yourself last in the happiness department? I'm not saying that you shouldn't take care of your friends, your partner or your children, but what about you? Aren't you just as important? (Maybe even more so!)

Think about it this way; if your health goes down the drain, are you even going to be around or available to help anyone else?

And what if your happiness level gets lower and lower? Are you going to be someone that others want to spend time with?

And even more tragically, when you're unhappy and don't put yourself first, you may emotionally check-out and in turn, miss out on all the good stuff in your life.

So tell me today, do you care about your own happiness and putting yourself first? Do you schedule the babysitter to come over for a few hours a week so you can go to the gym or have a date night? Do you eat healthily or eat whatever is left after your partner or the kids eat or just choose something from the vending machine at work because your clients are always first priority?

Do you take the time to do things that have absolutely nothing to do with money or achievement, but merely pleasure? Do you remind yourself that those things truly matter? Or are you waiting to be happy?

What about your goals, hopes and aspirations? Are you putting them off to the side until everyone else is taken care of?

In what ways do you need to put yourself first?

Let's try an exercise that I like to do with my clients.

Think about five activities that make you happy and list them here. I'll share mine as an example:

Happiness List

  1. Coffee date with my husband.
  2. Traveling.
  3. Yoga.
  4. Shopping in Chelsea.
  5. Reading a book. (Not Facebook!)
  6. Once you have your list, write down the last time you did those things.

Now write down the last time you did those activities:

  1. Coffee date with my husband. (Saturday)
  2. Traveling. (August)
  3. Yoga. (Friday)
  4. Shopping in Chelsea. (Can't remember)
  5. Reading a book. (Not Facebook!) (Friday)

Once you have your second list, check to see if there's anything you either can't remember doing or haven't done for a few months.

Based on my list, it looks like I need to go shopping more! (Don't you love when that happens?!)

If I'm being honest, my first reaction was to feel guilty about the shopping part and that fact that that makes me happy. But that's the exact opposite of the point of this exercise.

You should never make yourself "wrong" for what makes you happy. That's something else women (clearly myself included) do far too often. It's much better to just be honest. So I admit, shopping does make me happy.

And actually, I can break that activity down even further. For me, I wrote "shopping in Chelsea" which is a specific area of London that I love. So I know it's about much more than buying things and more about the feeling I get from being in that gorgeous part of this city -- a reminder of why I moved here in the first place. So that's something I want to amp up as a way of putting myself and my happiness first. Make sense?

So this week, sit down and figure out where you can begin to put yourself first by doing activities that you love. Even the little things like getting a manicure, taking a walk with your husband or boyfriend or having a glass of wine with your girlfriends really matter and contribute to your overall happiness.

And if this is something you'd really love some support with, that's what I'm here for so book your complimentary coaching session today!