The Best Advice I Can Give – What do You do?
December 20, 2019 | 14 Comments | Greg Dawson
I want to share a truth that you’ve undoubtedly heard before. But in my experience supporting thousands of practitioners, most have heard this advice before – and even Agree with it, but very few actually Do it.
After all, it’s a common trap. You can have a perfect business model. You can have excellent technical knowledge. Keen diagnostic skills. Impeccable credentials. A fabulous team. You can do all these things “right”. But still fail to create a wildly successful practice. Or still fail to help your clients consistently get well and stay well. Or still burnout before you achieve all you feel called to do.
This I know to be true: your success and fulfillment and longevity in doing this work is going to be directly correlated with Your level of self-care.
Because the reality is that doing this work is challenging. It takes a lot of time. Focus. Resiliency. Creativity. Persistence. Commitment. And the heaviness of what our patients and clients are unburdening themselves of in pursuit of healing can still hang on our shoulders. My advice is to always prioritize filling your own cup first. And then give generously to those you serve with the overflow from your cup.
Sure, you can over-give and deprioritize yourself for a while. Putting your children, your spouse, your patients, your team, your communities and causes and families consistently ahead of You. Getting by with a half-full cup and rationalizing your resentment or frustration and fatigue. But I have never seen this approach work long-term.
Eventually you too will burnout and likely succumb to disease in the very way that you educate your patients to avoid. When we are burned out, we do not show up for our patients with our full creativity and intuition. Our work becomes acceptable and a bit numb. But no longer inspired and transformative. And in some cases, we leave behind the career we were called to pursue because it all becomes “just too much”.
I do Not want this to happen to you. But I know that this is likely the default if you don’t purposefully prevent it. The world needs what You uniquely have to offer. There are patients and clients literally waiting for the very specific skills and health care approach that you offer. The future, sustainable health of our human family needs You. We need you to Show Up and do this work in a way that is authentic, fulfilling, and uplifting to You. When we prioritize our own self-care and fill our cup first, then it is easy and gratifying to give generously from all that overflows that cup. Our cup of wellness, joy, and ease.
Of course only You know what truly fills Your cup. Perhaps it’s time alone. Solitude in nature. A scorching hot yoga class. Time spent in a balancing hobby. An adventure with friends. Loud music and raucous dancing. Gratitude journaling. Weekly Thai massage. Hire someone to do the parts of your work that deflate you. A weekday off with your best buddy roaming the city. Put a hammock in your living room. A vacation without your family. A long snuggle with a beloved pet (maybe even take them to work with you). Take art lessons. Get to bed at 9pm. Or 8pm with an hour lost in a book that isn’t about health. Ballroom dance class. Yoga in the middle of the day. A hot bath. These are all seemingly simple things. But they are powerful. And your list is probably weird and questionable to some of your friends and family. That’s okay. Stop “should”ing on yourself and start full-filling yourself. Nobody but You has to understand and say Yes to what fills your cup.
As we begin a new year, I want you to get honest with yourself about what would fill your cup. And then start taking steps now to make it happen as a priority. Stop settling for “it’s just not convenient” or “there’s no way”. There Is a way. Just begin. Your cup just needs your prioritization, creativity, and commitment. Our mission needs You to be showing up with a full cup.
For inspiration, I want to share some unexpected and perhaps surprising things that I personally do to fill my own cup. But of course this is my list, and I know yours will be different and perhaps unexpected too. Please Comment below and share a thing or two that You do to fill your cup. Inspire your colleagues.
- Let a dog adopt you. Or multiple ones (we have six). The amount of pleasure, fun, and love we give each other is infinite. Pets are incredibly skilled at pulling you out of your mind and into the present moment with lightness and love. We also have a stellar and beloved dogsitter so that having this large family doesn’t mean we are homebound or stressed when traveling.
- Wake up and get up when your body naturally decides it is ready. Go to bed early enough that you are almost never awakened by an alarm clock. I don’t set one, but if you need that safety net, aim to never actually let it go off before you rise for the day.
- Sleep well. Seriously. Whatever is in the way of you having deep, consistent, lengthy sleep, get to the bottom of it. Stop tolerating it. Sleep in a separate room from your partner if they disturb your sleep. I do. Contrary to common myth, it’s not “bad” for your relationship. In fact, if you and your partner are both well-rested, you will likely enjoy more fun, more connection, more intimacy, and more gratitude for each other every day. I do!
- Treat mindfulness like it’s an important appointment. It is. Set aside as sacred a time every day when you connect with your spirit, your soul, in whatever way makes your heart sing and transcend the hubbub of the world. I meditate, journal, dog-snuggle, and enjoy some inspirational reading each morning as the sun comes up. If we have company or I have an early workday, I just get up earlier. Maybe your ideal time is mid-day or late afternoon in between work and home life. Choose what works best for you and honor that time. It’s an important appointment.
- Go for a “Be Here Now” walk in the middle of the day. Rain or shine or snow. Breathe. Don’t talk on the phone while you do it. In fact, leave your phone behind. Wave at people who drive by. Admire what you encounter along the way. Send silent affirmations and smiles to the people you see from afar. Even if I only do it for 10 minutes, it’s a powerful reset on what matters.
- Make time for regular bodywork and exercise. A lot of what I do and love each day involves sitting and thinking. Being healthy and feeling well grounded in-my-body takes focus. Massage therapist, chiropractor, personal trainer, yoga instructor, cranio-sacral therapist, and reflexologist: I call them my “health care team” and visit a few of them every week. I block out time on my calendar and only cancel in the case of a true emergency.
- Schedule vacations and truly Vacate! If you go on a trip and you’re “doing email”, this is not vacation. Your body is somewhere else, but your mind is still “on” and at work. I like to do things on purpose. Work hard. Play hard. Rest hard. Take true breaks.
- Listen to music throughout the day. I start with Native American flute. Move into jazz standards mid-morning. Then hit the afternoon with club dance music.
- Have a Very comfortable office chair that spins and can zoom across the hardwood floor (dogs love this game)
- Be surrounded by plants and fresh flowers in your work environment. Oxygen. Green. Life!
- Buy and savor really, really good coffee. Exactly how you like it.
- Donate to something you believe in passionately. For me, this is animal rescue and adoption. Whether its $5 or $5000, contribute to something outside yourself that inspires you and fuels someone else to find ease and joy.
- Own an exquisitely sharp and lovely-to-hold kitchen knife. Chopping veggies with some old, dull hand-me-down would be a hole in my cup.
- Surprise people with kindness and unexpected generosity. I really enjoy leaving a $5 tip on a cup of coffee, placing an inspirational quote on the windshield of the woman I just watched unload four kids from her car with great frustration, giving a fresh flower to the mailman or the lady at the laundromat, leaving a few pieces of fresh fruit in a bag on my workaholic neighbor’s doorknob, or surprising my husband mid-day with a hand-delivered carton of fresh organic blackberries (his favorite).
- Hire people to do the things that are important but that you don’t love doing. You give Them the joy of earning money doing something they love in the process too. This is anything from doing your taxes to doing your shopping to writing your client post-session notes to doing your booking/billing to doing presentations for your patients to picking up the presents you want to give to loved ones. None of these things costs as much as you might think. You just have to decide that you’re “worth it”.
I hope these resonate with you or at least inspire you to prioritize your own. Now I really want to learn from yours. Please Share away!
Here’s to Self Care, your cup filling up and running over, and the Success and Impact it will create,