We are always getting ready to live, but never living. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Deep in your heart, you know your superhero powers – your talents in community organizing, your love of teaching kids, your ability to plan and deliver needed programs – are changing the world, but there’s just one little teeny tiny problem:
You’re barely making your rent, much less saving for the future dream of a down-payment. And saving for retirement, are you kidding me?
You want to do work that’s meaningful, but is it so wrong to also want to have a life too?
It’s so often the case with do-gooders: you want to change the world, but you might have forgotten about yourself.
Your cause, the people you serve, the societal changes you make, are so important to you, that you can forget that you count too.
Somehow, it’s easy to think it’s selfish to care about your own needs. You might have have actually forgotten what it means to take care of yourself.
I remember what that feels like: the long hours, the short lunches, the weekends more full of work than anything else.
But just like when you buy a raffle ticket: you must be present to win.
You must be present – your basic needs also need to be met – in order to change the world.
If we don’t take care of our own needs, we can’t serve others as well as we could. Being exhausted and depleted doesn’t allow us to be at our best.
So, how can we be of service to the world, and take care of our own needs?
The great news is: you don’t actually have to choose.
Taking care of yourself actually means you’ll be able to be of more service in the world.
I remember when I got this concept clearly in my own coaching practice: that staying up after my kids went to bed to write a blog post or reply to an email rarely produced any decent quality work. It was better – for me, and for my clients – to close my lap top, go to bed and wake up refreshed and ready to go, instead of burning the proverbial midnight oil.
Can you relate?
How to change the world and still eat:
- Know what’s important to you. What’s really important about the work you do? In the coaching I do with my clients, I help them get crystal clear about what they value in their work and in their life. You can too with my Unfold Your Roadmap tool (get your copy free here).
- What’s your vision? What do you really want, both in work and in life? If I could hand you the magic wand, what do you want to create – both in the world, and in your life? Really allow yourself to stretch into this and explore. Many do-gooders skip this step, because of a fundamental belief that it’s silly, extravagant, or indulgent to dream. Dreaming doesn’t mean it will magically happen, but I believe that you’re more likely to get what you want if you know what it is.
- What’s one thing you could do to get closer to your vision? Just one thing. There is a dream hidden underneath what you are wanting and it’s not going to get any better the longer you wait. Don’t wait any longer. Just taking one action in the direction of your vision can start a positive cascade. Take a 15 minute walk at lunch. Sign up for the meditation or yoga class. Ask for the raise you want.
Try these steps out, and declare what your one action will be in the Comments below.
I can’t wait to hear what it will be!
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for content and relevancy.
Photo credit: Vironevaeh / Foter / CC BY-SA
I will make more time for writing next week and also for taking breaks–perhaps some naps!
Hanna Cooper says
Hooray for breaks! And naps! And for writing! And for you! Let me know how it goes…!
This is looking really great Hanna! Love the different colours and the short paragraphs. And it’s a great reminder to look after ourselves first so we can pass on the energy to others. Take care, Kate
Hanna Cooper says
Thanks so much for taking a peek at it, Kate! Hope you are doing well too!
I love this article, Hanna 🙂 I see this happen again and again, how good people get so caught up helping others that they forget about themself and eventually burn out, and I’ve totally been there myself too.
These days I try to be more aware, but there is of course always room for improvement 🙂
My action step starting next week is to start doing my yoga program again, at least once a week, and then rise it to twice. Thank’s for the inspiration 🙂
Hanna Cooper says
Thanks so much for commenting, Ann-Sofi – and way to go with re-starting your yoga program again! I’d love to hear how it goes!