It’s really a shame. Life is so short, and your time so valuable. Yet, we waste it chasing temporary happiness and things that have no meaning. Maybe because in the daily rat race, we lose sight of what’s essential. Or, perhaps you’re just uncertain about what your priorities should be. Either way, here’s what should always come first in life and how you can obtain it.
My grandfather was known for a lot of things, like being able to maintain his composure in any situation. But, his love of food was legendary. He enjoyed nothing more than sitting down and enjoying a big meal with good company. There were times, however, that his appetite was a nuisance. But, it was a loveable quirk of his.
It turns out that maybe he was onto something.
According to Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, which was first published in 1943, food is a physiological need. Or, in other words, it’s a biological requirement for our survival. Other physiological needs include shelter, clothes, sleep, health, and sex.
“If these needs are not satisfied, the human body cannot function optimally,” Saul McLeod explains in Simply Psychology. “Maslow considered physiological needs the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.”
So, in my opinion, your physiological needs always come first in your life. If you’re hungry, sleep-deprived, or in poor health, then how can you be successful in any other area of your life?
As the lyrics from one of my favorite folk songs, “Moonshiner,” goes, “Let me eat when I am hungry, Let me drink when I am dry, A dollar when I am hard up, Religion when I die.”
How can you make sure that these needs are met? Establish a routine and stick to it, like going to bed the same time every day. Also, no matter what’s going on, always block off time for lunch. And, whenever you have downtime, use it to attend to your self-care.
Me, Myself, and I
After your physiological needs have been met, it’s time to put yourself first. Sure. That sounds selfish. But, there are several good reasons why you need to be self-serving.
As pointed out by NBC News, research from Brené Brown has discovered that “loving yourself more than you love others is the first and most critical step to seeking happiness and fulfillment.”
Brown even claims that it’s “impossible to love anyone more than you love yourself.” Furthermore, “taking care of yourself is the pathway to fulfillment and high performance in work and life. And, just as importantly, it’s a gift to others.”
Additionally, when your specific needs have been met, your self-esteem is higher. You’re also more confident. And, it will be easier “to be a giver when your cup is full.”
Still not convinced? Putting yourself first will help you establish boundaries and shows others how you want to be treated. If you’re always putting the needs ahead of your own, then you’ll be perceived as a pushover. And, even worse, you’ll never get around to your priorities in both business and life.
How can you make time for yourself? Throughout the day, carve out a piece of time where you’re alone. It could be a 15-minute break where you meditate, read, or go for a walk. Also, make it a point to leave work on time. And, when you’re “off-the-clock,” then you’re not working. Instead, do whatever makes you happy.
Way back in 1938, scientists began tracking over 200 Harvard graduates. After following these individuals for almost 80 years, they found that “embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier.”
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships have a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”
“Good relationships aren’t just happier and nicer,” adds clinical psychologist Sue Johnson. “When we know how to heal [relationships] and keep them strong, they make us resilient.”
“All these clichés about how love makes us stronger aren’t just clichés; it’s physiology. Connection with people who love and value us is our only safety net in life,” says Johnson.
Of course, you should strive for quality and quantity. Develop and maintain close relationships with those who are supportive, but also challenge you to become a better person.
How can you build meaningful relationships? For starters, always be yourself. Trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship. So, you don’t want to have it built on a lie. Moreover, you’re going to have to invest in these relationships. Reach out frequently to those you care about. Let them know that you appreciate them. And, make sure that you spend quality time with them — I suggest blocking out these times so that nothing else gets scheduled during this slot.
“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it” — Buddha
Do you want to live a fulfilling life? Then, you need to identify your purpose, passion, your one goal in life. Whether you ultimately call these your dreams, aspirations, or your definition of success, your purpose is what drives you. It gets you out of bed each morning and persists no matter what. It’s what inspires you to launch and run your business. Overall, purpose gives your life meaning and helps you maintain “sustainable psychological well-being.”
How to find your purpose? According to the Greater Good Center at UC Berkely, you can find your purpose by reading, cultivating gratitude, and listening to what others appreciate about you. You can also find your purpose through failure or suffering. And don’t isolate yourself. Instead, become a member of a community.
The only way that you’ll be able to accomplish any of the above is by finding the balance between work and life. I would love to spend my days relaxing on the beach, strumming my ukulele. But, I need to make money so that I can eat, have a roof over my head, and replace those ukulele strings when they need to be changed.
At the same time, there’s no way I can focus on work 24/7. Sure. My work is frequently on the top of my mind. But, when it’s time to disconnect and enjoy life outside of business, I’m going to be all in. It’s the best way to avoid getting burned out and have enough gas in the tank to do what needs to get done.
How to balance work and life? Create a schedule that allows for it. Begin by prioritizing your activities so that you’re not wasting time on things that aren’t important. As for those low priority tasks, delegate or drop them from your schedule. Also, look for ways to maximize your time, like scheduling all of your meetings on the same day. And, always schedule downtime — no exceptions.
Continuous learning and growth are essential. Take your career as an example. If you stay on top of trends, enhance your existing skills, or develop new knowledge, you’ll become more proficient. In turn, this will help you work smarter, not harder.
You could also work on developing your interpersonal skills to help you collaborate at work or strengthen your relationships. Outside of work, you could learn something new, like a new language, to make you a more well-rounded individual.
How make time for self-development? Start by setting aside 15-minutes a day. For instance, when taking a break from work, tinker around on a language app like Duolingo or read a book that will make you a better leader. And, instead of when you’re not working, don’t spend all of your time binge-watching TV. Go out and join a class or work on a newly acquired skill.
I wish it were true when The Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy me love.” But, in reality, that’s just not how the world spins.
Without money, we can’t attend to our physiological needs. We also can’t invest in hobbies, learning opportunities, or keep the business operating.
Additionally, financial concerns are stressful and distracting. Neither of which are beneficial for your health or productivity. After all, when you’re losing sleep over money, it’s almost impossible to catch a good night’s rest or focus on anything else.
How can you get your finances in order? Whether if it’s for your business or family, the first step is to track income and audit your expenses. It’s the only way for you to identify where your money is going so that you can create a budget. You should also keep your personal and business finances separate, look for ways to generate more revenue streams, and schedule regular money meetings.