Being an overachiever was my M.O. in my early adult years. Graves disease and back problems forced me to prioritize self-care in my thirties, but it wasn't easy. I was devastated that I wasn't able to work full-time and do everything I wanted to do. I had mindsets I had to change in order to embrace a life that didn't require me to always be achieving to matter.
Here are the four main mindset changes I had to make:
- You are more than your job.
However you define your job (by your ability to make money, lead a household, or be a good parent) does not define your worth as a person. You are good enough just as you are. You don't have anything to prove to anyone, including yourself!
- You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself.
That speech on airplanes about putting on your own oxygen mask first applies to more than just airplanes. "You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm," is one of my favorite anonymous quotations because it's so true. You can't give more of yourself than you have to begin with. Filling up your own cup isn't selfish; it means you have more to give to others.
- You may actually be enabling when you think that you're helping.
I used to take care of my students at every opportunity. I would print out application forms and remind them of deadlines, for example, as well as bring extra music and a repair kit to auditions for them. When I began teaching remotely while I was in grad school, they had to take care of a lot of these things themselves. Guess what? They were better for it. They were more knowledgeable and confident at finding their own opportunities and being prepared on their own. I thought I'd been helping, but I had really been denying them the opportunity of empowerment. I still guide my student and offer advice, but I don't enable them anymore.
- Your body and life are a gift.
This seems like an obvious one, but how often do you push yourself past the limit? Do you stay up too late, not get enough sleep, eat disgusting food, and constantly put aside any physical activity. Appreciate your body and your life by taking care of yourself.
How would you feel if someone didn’t value a gift you gave them? Show the Universe that you’re grateful for the gift of your life by honoring your mind, body, and spirit.
- Being busy is not a burden.
Culture places priority on working hard instead of smart, buy burnout is not a badge of courage. We say “I’m busy” like we’re really saying “I’m stressed out.” You can be busy and not be overwhelmed. Be happy that you have things to do that you love.
When I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to (OR everything I thought I should be doing), I felt like I had to prove my worth as a human. I was enough doing what I could do. You are enough.
Dr. Nancy Williams is a music educator and leadership & life coach. Her mission in both jobs is to inspire awareness and empowerment so that others can be agents of positive change in the world. She specializes in helping clients and students overcome imposter syndrome and overwhelm in order to lead with joy and empowerment.