7 Success Strategies: Part 7: Be A Little Selfish

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw andrestore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” ~ The Dalai Lama         

This article is the seventh and final in a series called “7 Strategies of Successful Women Lawyers.” I have enjoyed sharing each of these strategies with you, and I hope that you have applied some (or all!) of them to your lives and seen meaningful results.

This lhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/d3bz/4744272681/ast success strategy is “Be a Little Selfish.” The other six strategies have been more about external activities—ways of thinking, ideas for taking action. But in the midst of all that action and movement, it is critical that we take time to care for and nurture ourselves. By being “selfish,” I mean to give you permission to focus on yourself and your own self-care. This kind of self-care can take many forms, yet the important part is that we take time away, restoring and rejuvenating ourselves, so that we can fully “showup” in our law practices and in every part of our lives.

There is a reason that flight attendants ask us to put on our own mask first in the event of an emergency. When I first flew on an airplane and heard that suggestion, I thought, “How selfish!” Now I realize that it is sage wisdom: we are no good to anyone else if we haven’t taken care of ourselves.

As women (and especially for those women who are also mothers), it is hard for us to feel “selfish” and take this time for ourselves. We may feel that time away from others who need us—our partners, our children, our friends, or others—is taking away from them, depriving them of something. The fact is that when we take this precious time for ourselves, we are actually giving something to them. We are giving them the gift of our full selves, a better version of ourselves than the stressed, anxious, and irritable pre-self-care version.

The word “selfish” has a negative connotation. In fact, the dictionary defines it as “concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.” Other words for “selfish” are: inconsiderate, thoughtless, grudging, uncharitable, self-indulgent, and greedy. But selfishness doesn’t have to go to these extremes; in fact, you may become all of these things as a means of coping with your stress! Taking a little time for yourself to recharge your batteries is necessary to preserve our sanity.

So think of your self-care as an investment you make in yourself and a gift you give to others. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not suggesting seven massages a week and hours of bathing, reading, and luxuriating while your loved ones forget your name and your practice falls apart. I believe you know what you need to do—you need to find enough time to do the things that restore you, nurture you, and bring you back into balance with yourself. Listen to your body and mind; you will know when you have invested enough time in yourself to be fully of love and service to your family, friends, colleagues and clients.

TODAY: Do something that fills you up. Go for a walk. Sit and enjoy a cup of your favorite tea while being fully present (no multitasking here!) Take a few minutes to just breathe deeply and remember all you have to be grateful for in life. Whatever it is, make the time to restore yourself so that you can be at your best, for yourself and for those around you. It’s a win-win, so remember to be a little selfish once in a while!  



(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/d3bz/4744272681/)

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