Disclaimer: there's some very personal stuff in here. I'd appreciate you reading on with sensitivity.
The Bottom Line
- I will no longer make sacrifices and work 'pro bono'. I make myself available too willingly to do last minute favours for others that don't serve my own needs or goals. I now have a very clear definition in my head of my work and my personal worth; while I've been happy to freely participate in projects in the past to gain experience, I must now think of my career and my survival. I will still volunteer my talents from time to time for worthwhile causes that share my values, but my first commitment must be to myself, and I should never feel obliged to work for free.
- I will no longer live my life through other people. I realise that I still spend too much time social networking and reading about other people's lives through status updates. While social networks are valuable tools, they are not a healthy medium when it comes to procrastination. I will live a more present life in the real world and stop living vicariously through my virtual persona.
- I will first and foremost support myself. I dedicate a tremendous amount of time to supporting needy acquaintances. While I'm not going to stop caring about people, I do need to protect myself. This may seem a little callous, but I recognise that my own health and well-being is suffering due to the emotional intensity of some of the relationships I maintain and the subsequent volume of stress I carry around by taking on board other people's problems. The counsellor in me needs to reinstate personal boundaries and remember that sometimes it's kinder to take a step back.
- I will no longer sacrifice my health. My insomnia has been problematic again recently; I've been left feeling exhausted as a result. My reduced working hour contract kicks in from tomorrow, however, meaning more dedicated time for freelancing and writing. I have a unique opportunity to redress my work-life balance as part of this shift, and I will take positive steps to develop a healthy new routine that will hopefully lead to my sleep pattern improving this winter. I already feel more positive about my health given I now exercise regularly, walking outdoors for a minimum of 40-60 minutes every day, plus my eating habits have improved this year (I've lost 3 stone in weight since January). I want to maintain this healthier lifestyle and pave the way for getting fitter and even more active in the coming months.
- I will learn to love again. This may sound cheesier than a three-cheese pizza with an extra helping of mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan, but I've punished myself long enough. After my long-term relationship ended three years ago, I convinced myself no-one would ever be interested in me again, instead channelling all my time and energy into being creative and pursuing the artistic goals I had set myself. While that may have paid off in the form of the wee successes and victories I've enjoyed along the way, I realise that it was a huge sacrifice to make and I've missed out on the opportunity to share my experiences with someone else. I think feeling lonely may be one of the reasons I procrastinate so much; I'm not getting a healthy quota of human interaction. I'm going to put myself back out there, make myself available and hope that in time I'll meet the right person.
There's some tough love in these actions, but I recognise they'll benefit me in the long run if I start putting myself first again.