49 Going on 50 Mentoring Tip #19: TAKE CARE OF FIRST THINGS FIRST

Okay, yeah, I was supposed to post something every day until I turned 50, yet for the past two weeks I've fallen off. I admit it; I overcommitted myself. If you want to register a complaint, I suggest you submit it now, because effective tomorrow I'll be coppin' a 'tude and my 49-Going-On-50 Mentoring Tips may morph into I'm-50-So-Don't-Say-Sh*t-To-Me Rants. But today is today. Back to my regularly scheduled mentoring tip...

Handle first things first. Which is what I did when I fell off the planet. I was taking care of a couple of things: 1) my workload, which escalated overnight because I just sold a new project, which I'll tell you about in a separate post; and 2) one day I realized that I want to enter my 50s with no piles in my entire house. No laundry, no hand washing, no business receipts, no stacks of mail, no insurance quotes that I want to compare, no drawers full of magazines I'm going to read one day, no tear-outs of recipes I want to cook when I entertain, no Netflix CDs that I've had for 11 months and still haven't watched, no emails in my inbox (oops! I got a little carried away with myself -- still have 197 unread, plus my 3 Gmail accounts, plus Yahoo, sigh...). No stacks of Obama paraphernalia, election day newspapers from around the country, or magazines with the POTUS and FLOTUS on the cover because one day they will be historic because everything will be in the cloud, won't it? (Oops! Got carried away again; I still have all my Obama stuff.)

Anywho, back to my point: At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself. Your  spouse/partner/significant other/roommate (does that cover everyone?), kids, salamander and hamster don't inhabit your mental or emotional world. They do not experience your head talk while you stare at the ceiling worrying about whatever you worry about, or your blood pressure rising as you write your To-Do list, or your growing list of regrets because you didn't stand up for yourself/take care of yourself/put your own needs first for once. 

There's a point at which you really need to do you. I mean take care of the things that it would be so easy to defer and take you child to the mall to upgrade their next digital device to prove you're not a bad parent, or listen to your friend who remains distraught about the same problem s/he's been obsessing about but doing nothing to fix for the past 10 years, or make the bouillabaisse for the class potluck that you promised to make in a fit of inspiration rather than tuna casserole. It's okay to say you're going to do something but then change your mind, or reorder your priorities, or do it later or not at all.

Learning this lesson is very important. Because few things are worse than feeling badly about yourself because you didn't take care of something you needed to handle for yourself so that you could to other folks who have since gone on about their business and are not thinking about you, or, worse, are making the next demand, not understanding or caring how much it strains you. And you're sitting there trapped in your head talk and bad feelings about yourself -- practicing affirmations, promising yourself that you'll do better next time, or rehearsing what you would of/should of/could of said or will say when they ask you next time. That is THE WORST! 

Fortunately you can stop the madness. 

Be graceful, generous and responsible, yes, but demonstrate those qualities to yourself as well. Take care of yourself first. Everyone can wait until you've gotten your affairs in order. You're fine, aren't you? You probably didn't even miss me. ;) Not only does handling first things first help you feel good about yourself, it gives other folks an opportunity to practice standing on their own two feet as they wait. A win/win for everyone.