At the end of 2020, we identified three essential, courageous actions leaders need to take in 2021:

  1. Speak up even when doing so is risky.
  2. Focus on the collective.
  3. Maintain fierce commitment to self-care.

We’ve addressed #1 and #2 in previous newsletters and want to focus today on #3 – self-care. If you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah. . .I hear and read about the importance of self-care all the time. The idea of self-care sounds great, but it doesn’t fit with the reality of my life,” we get it! We hear this response all the time – sometimes (full disclosure) even from ourselves. Below, we address the three most common excuses we hear from people who aren’t engaging in regular self-care.

1. I don’t have time for that! (Alternate version: Who are these people who have time to take baths by candlelight or go golfing with their buddies?!)

Lisa and Julie: Saying that you don’t have time for self-care is like saying you don’t have time to get the oil changed in your car or your tires rotated. You may be able to “keep driving” for a little while, but eventually, you are going to have problems that are much bigger and more time consuming than an oil change or tire rotation! If we don’t take care of our internal operating system, we don’t think clearly, problem-solve effectively, or work efficiently. And it is inevitable that we will make mistakes – sometimes big ones. No one “has time” for self-care. You have to make it a priority and say “no” to something else.

2. Self-care is selfish. (Alternate version: How can I rationalize spending an hour reading a book by myself in my room when I have 100 emails in my in-box and piles of laundry in the living room?!)

Lisa and Julie: Self-ISH is prioritizing your wants above someone else’s needs. Self-CARE is prioritizing your needs above someone else’s wants. (Go back and read those two sentences again!) 100 emails in your inbox? You’ll provide much better responses after a dose of self-care, and you’ll probably move through the task more efficiently. Piles of laundry in your living room? They will still be there waiting after you engage in an energy-giving activity. And you will probably have a better attitude while folding!

Self-care is not selfish. It enables you to give your best self to others and to the task at hand.

3. Other people seem to do fine without self-care. I should be as strong as they are. (Alternate version: My mom was a single parent who raised three kids while working two jobs. Our meals were always homemade, and our house was spotless. If she could do it, I should be able to.)

Lisa and Julie: We MUST eradicate the idea that self-care is a form of indulgence or a sign of being weak or soft. We know far more than we ever have about the science of health and well-being. And the data is VERY CLEAR. Even if you don’t see the effects of ignoring self-care right now, you absolutely will at some point. We can’t escape stress in our everyday lives, so we have to have a buffer to its harmful effects. If you’re reading this newsletter (and especially if you made it this far!), you probably know that there is something that needs to change. Don’t wait for the tires to go flat or for your engine to burn out. Do your preventive maintenance regularly.

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