“Every day is a new day, and ultimately, I have to figure out what works each day.” -Nathan Chen
I sit down with my calendar and plan out the next few weeks. I schedule in kids’ activities, workouts, writing, blogging, marketing, meal prep-all those tasks that need a slot in my schedule if I want them to get done.
This is, after all, what life coaches, business advisors and productivity experts recommend. Schedule your days to make the most of them.
Many of you do this too, I imagine. And it’s all well and good, of course, except there’s one inherent problem with this lifestyle: we stop paying attention to what we really need.
Each season of life, each month, week, day, or even hour brings with it it’s own needs and desires. We often overlook, or glaze over these needs in the name of productivity, or “getting things done.”
To legitimately care for our health and well-being, we need to get better at recognizing and honoring these needs.
Because the truth is this, schedules and productivity are fine and can be necessary in our busy lives, but unless we make it a practice to check in with ourselves often, our most pressing needs may never get met.
I have a tendency (maybe you do, too?) to dive into my day as soon as the alarm sounds. I grab coffee, and begin the process of checking my to-dos off my list.
What I’m learning to do, however, is a bit different. I’m learning to ask myself these questions: What do I really need today? How can I best honor those needs? What is true for me in this moment?
Maybe your schedule has you down for a gym session, but what your body really needs is a nap. Maybe instead of that meeting across town, your mental health would benefit more from meeting a friend for coffee. Rather than a trip to the grocery store, maybe have your groceries delivered and spend that time taking a long walk.
The point isn’t what you do or don’t do, the point is a return to self-awareness, where you check in with your self and your body, listen to what it needs, and then, and here’s the kicker, honor that need.
Never the Same
The more you do this, the more you’ll begin to be better attuned to your body and it’s changing needs. Instead of mindlessly following our schedules, we’ll learn to ebb and flow with what we need most in the moment.
This is vitally important, as our needs and truest desires are always changing. And the more we pay attention, the better we’ll get at dissecting and understanding what those needs really are.
It’s not about completely ignoring our schedules and commitments, it’s more about recognizing when we need something separate from what our schedule dictates and, if possible, meeting that need.
When we’re at the point of understanding and honoring what we really need, despite our own and other people’s demands on ourselves and our time, we begin to feel freer, happier, and calmer.
Asking ourselves what we really need in the moment, and then giving it to ourselves, is the essence of good self-care.