We all have way too many things in our lives on a weekly basis to ever feel like we get everything done. Obligations, commitments (real or imagined) and self imposed standards about how we will comport ourselves with one another affect us in huge ways. Whether it's at work, in your friendships, in your family or in your romantic relationships - a lot of time is spent on others and worrying about others.
Long ago I discovered something I have tried very hard never to forget. It's called the Lifeguard Rule - and it's simply this: If you are not safe, well cared for, healthy and strong - you cannot help others be safe, well cared for, healthy or strong.
When a lifeguard dives courageously into the ocean to assist someone, she does so with a full artillery of training, knowledge and fitness. She doesn't ignore herself and her needs for weeks or months and then say "Hey, I think I'll jump in and help that guy today!"
I believe all professional and personal relationships must all be driven by a me-first policy. If you don't put yourself first, nobody else will believe you are a priority or treat you like one. Loving yourself and respecting the care you need, will set the correct good example.
It's an add on to that important but not standalone Golden Rule.
I've been stressed, tired, working long hours, missing my friends while worrying about setting up a new home, a new business and a new life. I was so stressed that I was brought to tears and ended up having a total Facebook rant about a well known scummy landlord for withholding some of my old deposit despite the fact I cleaned that damn place to near perfection. Why did I do that again? Oh yeah - that dumb Golden Rule.
I have NOT been paying attention to the Lifeguard Rule. I haven't actually been caring for ME and it's affected how well I can do my job and how I can care for others.
Here's my list of five.
1) Hydrate - Yep, water. Lots and lots of water. There are lots of different guidelines out there on how much you drink a day, but for me I need about 120 oz to feel awesome. (Between this and all the coffee that I love, it's a very fluid situation).
2) Take Your Vitamins & Supplements - Yes, I know they are controversial and people say we should get it in the food we eat, but for me - just me - my daily vitamins give me a healthy and powerful energy boost. Calcium, Women's Multi, Glucosamine, Cranberry Pills, Vitamin B, Vitamin C do the trick. I'm a huge fan of mixing a little Emergen C and using it to take my pills.
3) Exercise - REAL exercise for me has to be pretty heart pounding. A spin class, a hot yoga class, a six mile hike, a level -19, resistance-19 forty minute elliptical session generally do the trick. I do my best thinking when my body is hot! (I mean temperature, but thanks guys)
4) Learn Something - Whether it's industry news, participating in an online class, reading a friend's blog or getting in a good podcast (Freakonomics) - My day is better and my life is better when my brain is engaged.
5) Make Your Bed - Get up, make your bed. That's how I grew up. Those were the rules in my house and I am grateful for them. I firmly believe that starting your day with a freshly made bed sets a clear path to a productive day ahead. It also makes it that much more delicious to crawl into at the end of an accomplished day.
So what's your list of five? (Yes, limit it)
Show me how you are going to remember to live the Lifeguard Rule!