Put Yourself First (Even if You Think You Can’t)

Take a moment and think about all the people in your life that you feel some sense of responsibility for. If you were be-selfishto map out a typical day, how much time would be spent doing things for yourself? Try to go beyond the nuts and bolts of adult responsibilities like bill paying and grocery shopping. I’m talking about experiencing moments where you feel fully alive. How often does this happen in your life?

Most of us spend a great deal of time in routine mode or reacting to situations as they happen. It’s not a huge surprise that people often find themselves with stalled out career mojo when such a small portion of their time is devoted to internal reflection and self-care.

Sometimes people seek a career counselor or coach with a complete sense of urgency. They just want a change. They might say, “I’m ready to do anything that’s different from my current job.” We have to encourage people in this predicament to take a few steps back because career success involves self-reflection, selecting a path that is aligned with current values, and strategies to push through the roadblocks.

Does this sound like you? Have you found yourself in the “anything but this” mindset? If so, the first thing you should do is get to know yourself. Try filling in the blanks to the statements below:

I thrive in situations where ________________________________.

It excites me when I have the chance to apply my _____________________________ skills.

I accomplished something I was proud of was when ________________________.

I am motivated by the need to __________________________.

I have difficulty making myself a priority right now because of ________________________.

With a process as thorough as this, it is essential that you make yourself #1 in order to get the best results. This includes figuring what makes you happy and making sure you do those things regularly. Be realistic and identify things that you can easily (or somewhat easily) achieve. Here’s a sample list:

  1. A morning walk by the lake.
  2. Baking
  3. 15-minute daily meditation.
  4. Dinner out with friends.
  5. Attending an exercise class.

It may sound trite, but you would be surprised to know how many people we meet that haven’t done a single thing for themselves in an inordinate amount of time. Whether you’re in job search mode or not, doing something you love on a regular basis should be a priority. In fact, one client learned to appreciate the value of her current job that she had been desperate to leave after incorporating some habits of self-care. It changed her entire perspective and she brought a new attitude to her work. This is not necessarily typical but an example why it is so important to put yourself first.

We love to see our clients become enlightened and develop insight into who they are. Donna recently helped a client experience a series of “Ah ha moments” by helping to unearth her passions and interests while making them more tangible. This woman was stuck in a career path that was exclusively driven by the needs of others, and finally learned to acknowledge her own needs. She had this to say:

“You have managed to guide my reflection to an ever-deeper and more truthful level, and helped me acquire increasing clarity on my issues, patterns, desires and aspirations. I know we’re at the beginning of a unique journey to discover my real path but it was important for me to point out how much you have helped me achieve already.”

This is one of Careerfolk’s sweet spots with the help of our extensive battery of assessments and counseling background. If you’d like to get started on the road to self-discovery and prioritization, contact info@careerfolk to talk with one of us.

Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.William Shakespeare, Henry V

When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. ~Jean Shinoda Bolen


About the Author:

Tava Auslan, MSEd, ACRW 

Tava Auslan is a career counselor,  certified resume writer and dancer. After earning her BA in Psychology from SUNY Purchase and an MSEd in Counseling from Fordham University, she began her career with Donna at The New School Career Services Center in 2002. There she worked with students and graduates pursuing a variety of careers.  She later went on to serve as the Assistant Director of Disability Services.  This background has shaped her foundation for working with college students, recent grads and individuals with disabilities.  A skilled counselor, she is compassionate, insightful and delivers the right amount of “push” to motivate her clients.  She is known for her ability to help people assess their challenges, determine where they are stuck and offer tangible solutions to get them back on track. An astute writer, Tava earned her ACRW credential from Resume Writing Academy and crafts resumes that tell a compelling story for job seekers of all ages and stages.


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