How to Put Yourself First

At International Business Concepts, we’ve learned over the years that to be the leaders our people need us to be, we have to dedicate time and energy to ourselves. While this sounds selfish, we can assure you that it’s anything but. Have you ever heard of the oxygen mask theory? If you’re on a plane with a loved one and the oxygen masks come down, do you help them with their mask first, or do you secure your own? Your instincts may be to help the person you care for, but the correct answer is to put your mask on and then help. You are no good to anyone else if you can’t breathe. This idea plays a heavy role in leadership.

All of your life, you’ve been lied to. Your parents, teachers, and coaches have told you that to excel, you have to be willing to give your goals everything you’ve got. However, when you do that, what’s leftover? The truth is, to succeed, you have to be a master of time management. You need to have predetermined time frames for when you hustle at work, spend time with family and friends, and practice self-care. Spending quality time alone is nothing you have to earn; it’s something you need.

Speaking from experience, it can be challenging to stop putting every effort into your career. We suggest you start small. Begin by taking into account when you start your day and when you end it. Then, keep yourself consistent. It’s so easy to forget to look at the clock, and instead of working an eight-hour day, you’ve worked a ten-hour day. While you’ve been told that overworking shows that you are dedicated, and a hard worker, all it is really doing is burning you out. Stick to your schedule and actively work to improve your productivity daily. You can protect your time AND excel professionally!

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Maya Angelou

While helping others is admirable and required as a leader, it should only be a part of who you are. On the one hand, you are a mentor, employee, and friend. On the other hand, you are an individual. Never forget that you are only human, and you can only give so much without needing replenishment.

We hope that we’ve provided you with the okay to self-preserve. The next time you feel overwhelmed or like you have to put your needs on the backburner because others need you, think about the oxygen mask theory. You are no good to others if you can’t breathe. As you head further into the year, remember to hustle for your goals AND practice self-care. It’s okay to put yourself first at times; this will make you a smarter, more positive leader for your people. Our team at International Business Concepts speaks from experience when we say that success is achieved by understanding that balance is key!

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