Do you ever feel like the term “self-care” is so overused that it has almost lost its meaning?
What do you think of when you hear it? Bubble baths? Massages? Naps?
While those are great ways to replenish, I think we need to broaden the scope. True “self-care,” in my opinion, is nurturing the vision you have for your life; the direction you want to take your life in; the hopes and dreams you’re hungry to fulfill. And to do that on a consistent basis, we have to fill our tanks with things like walks in nature and reading a good book. And then — and here is the pivotal part — we have to be incredibly mindful about how we use this newly-acquired fuel.
Did you fill up so you could have dinner with that friend who siphons it all in a matter of minutes?
Are you going to use this premium grade to silently curse your boss instead of setting a boundary?
Will you allow some naysayer to puncture a hole in your tank and empty out your gumption?
This tends to be what we do, isn’t it? Gather just enough energy back to make it through our days and never-ending to-do lists? Suck it up… Exhale… Suck it up… Exhale. How is that self-care?
Or maybe you replenish in a way that is completely counterintuitive to your goals. A friend of mine had this job she hated. She made great money but tolerated a boss who would steal her ideas, saddle her with last-minute deadlines for projects that he sat on for weeks, and tell sexist jokes in meetings.
To soothe her tired soul, she resorted to retail therapy, buying expensive jewelry and more clothes than she could ever wear, and dining out at super fancy restaurants. Because she was spending all of her hard-earned cash, she was stuck at that job needing to make that salary.
The thing is, she dreamed of being a performer and had she saved some of that great salary instead of blowing it every week, she could have left that job sooner and pursued her craft. Instead, she used “self-care” to soothe instead of to shine. That’s putting a bandage on a broken arm if you ask me.
Practicing self-care in this new way means evaluating more closely how you’re living your life in comparison to how you want to be. This is playing the long game, my friend, and while our present self gets impatient with delayed gratification, it’s totally worth it.
You fill your tank so you can do the heavy lifting. When you’re feeling rejuvenated, you’re much more willing to look at the areas of your life that need some love, whether that be your finances, your health, or your relationships.
So this week, I challenge you to just be more mindful about how you spend your resources — your time, your energy, your bandwidth, your money. Is it aligned with the vision you have for your life?
If it’s not, it’s clutter.