When too many requests, expectations and pressures from others conflict with your desire to be the best you can be, the result can be to neglect others.
Personally, I don’t know of any one person who can get all things done at all times. More often, trying to do all of these things simultaneously means that none of them gets done well, which makes it easy to get exhausted, angry, and resentful in the process. So, I want to suggest consciously releasing yourself from unattainable expectations.
As we head towards the end of the year, let’s try to be gentle with ourselves and acknowledge that it’s impossible to do everything at the same time at the highest standard. Instead, try aligning your time with your long-term goals. For example, if your goal is to get a promotion at your current job, then going above & beyond needs to be a priority. Staying late & sending a bunch of emails won’t make up for a lack of quality productivity when you are evaluated for a promotion & a pay raise. To enable higher research productivity, you may need to lower the bar a bit in other areas of your work life. Paying yourself first each day means starting every day with at least 30 minutes of strategizing (and even acting upon) ways to improve yourself.
I know this is easier said than done! Personally, I tend to start each morning thinking about all the things I will be held accountable for that day (returning calls, reading emails, thinking about what will be for dinner, etc.). My immediate impulse is to do those things first and hope my “real” work will get done later. But from experience, I know that I will have neither the time nor the energy “later” to get my own work done. I also know that at some deep level, completing these other tasks first means that I am prioritizing them over myself. It means that I’m putting everyone else before myself and my future. And it means I’m putting seemingly urgent and short-term demands before the truly important activities that will lead to accomplishing my long-term goals.
Instead, I push myself to do little tasks first thing in the morning and the result is that I often don’t spend as much time on other things as I wish I could. But guess what? Even with less preparation than I would like, everything is fine. Most importantly, my goals keep me productive in a way that allows me to have choices about my future. I often feel euphoric after getting something done because I know my long-term agenda is moving forward, I’m intellectually stimulated and bursting with new ideas and am making a daily investment in my long-term success.
What are some other ways you can pay yourself first?!