It’s time to put you first

For many years I was a ‘yes girl’. I was the people pleaser; who didn’t love or accept herself. I constantly searched for connection and validation externally to fill this void. I did this by saying YES when I should have said NO. I did not think about requests and demands others made of me or the consequences for myself or my family.

I tried to be everything to everybody.

I was focused on not letting the other person down, so that I could feel good about myself. I was like a hampster on a wheel trying fill up my love cup by pleasing and accommodating others. I ended up exhausted, stressed and burnt out chasing something that didn’t exist.

Anxiety, overwhelm, exhaustion, stress and burnt out eventually led to depression and a major melt down. I truly believed at that time in my life that I had no control over my world, the events and the people in it. I was a victim of my circumstance. Trapped in my vortex of misery.



And then I discovered the difference between urgency and importance and this changed my world.

So what is the difference between urgency and importance?

Urgency refers to how quickly action is required. Urgent tasks may include a ringing phone, a drop-in visitor, a text message or a social media alert. Important things in life are those that do not have a deadline but are crucial to balance, happiness and wellbeing. Important focuses include family, finances, relationships, mental and physical health, personal development and relaxation.

We often confuse urgency with importance because of the high energy that is attached to urgency. Understanding the difference between what is urgent and what is important is the key to finding the space to put yourself first. This is a difficult concept for some of us to grasp, particularly women. I have coached so many women over the years who initially have been very uncomfortable with this concept. Their main concern has been that they would be perceived as selfish.

As women, we have been so indoctrinated to be everything to everyone that even the thought of putting yourself first is met with guilt, let alone following through with the act. But let’s face it—if you don’t look after yourself, you are no good to anyone. Look what happened to me. I pushed myself so hard that in the end I could barely function. It is simply not worth it.

In order to create more space in your life, you will need to implement a combination of effective boundaries and systems for identifying urgencies for what they really are. Then you can work on changing the way you react to them. These strategies will help to create the space for what is truly important in your life and turn around the downward spiral of over-commitment, burnout and exhaustion.

Setting boundaries is protecting yourself from others so that you can take care of yourself.

Learning to set boundaries and addressing over-commitment requires valuing yourself and realising how important you are. It involves recognising how important your mental and physical health is to your long term happiness. Using this motivator you can create space between yourself, commitments, the mood hoovers and the ministers for doom and gloom.

A great place to start is by looking at what is important in your life.

Perhaps what is important to you is getting back to nature, valuing your surroundings, spending time with your family, working on your mental and physical health or simply spending time alone.

In order to make time for what is important, you will need to reduce the amount of urgent tasks that are taking up your time. If you live your life with a high amount of urgency, it may be automatic for you to be accommodating to others, simply because you react too quickly to their requests. You may not give yourself time to think the request through and make a decision that works for you.

“Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

The ‘gap’ is an excellent tool to use to help you decide whether you are being confronted with an urgent or important request.

The gap is simply that: a gap in time between action and reaction, ensuring that you never compromise on what is important to you with someone else’s urgency. Using the gap eliminates saying ‘yes’ when you wanted to say ‘no’.

When an urgent request is made of you that clashes with what you consider important in your life, consider using one of these responses:

“I am not sure what I have on. I will look in my diary and give you a call tomorrow.”

“Yes I can, just not at that particular time. I will get back to you with a time that suits.”

There is no need to feel as though you are doing an injustice to a loved one, shirking a responsibility or being selfish. It is necessary to take care of yourself to prevent becoming mentally and physically exhausted.

“You don’t have to be terrorised by other people’s expectations of you.” Sue Patton Theole

Implementing the gap strategy allowed me to step back and be the observer in my world. Now when I disassociate from an event, it is easy for me to see what is my stuff and what is theirs. I can then apply the philosophy ‘not my circus; not my monkeys’, which gives me the space to make decisions that work for me.

When you start to set boundaries and fit other people into your schedule, rather than yourself into theirs, you will be amazed at how much more time you have to do the things that are important to you.

Join me this Thursday at 1pm on our Facebook Live chat and I will share with you some great strategies to put in place to create space for you to grow and expand into the best version of you.












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