Apply Your “Oxygen Mask” First | NAWBO

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Apply Your “Oxygen Mask” First

As women entrepreneurs, we’ve been on our fair share of airplane flights. And before every flight, we hear that same instruction, “In the event of an emergency, apply the oxygen mask to yourself before assisting a child or someone else in need.”

The concept of taking care of ourselves first so that we can successfully take care of others certainly makes sense, but somehow we fail to put it into practice in our daily lives. We take care of our spouses or partners, children, aging parents and homes. We give time and emotional support to our friends. We go above and beyond for our employees and customers. We help out and encourage our NAWBO sisters. The list goes on…and on. And at the end of the day, there’s not a lot of time or energy left for our own wellness, whether that means healthy eating, exercising, meditating, enjoying a bath or a glass of wine, reading or pursuing another personal passion.

However, as women entrepreneurs, we need these things for our own wellness. We have to constantly apply that “oxygen mask” so that we feel rejuvenated, inspired and motivated to continue to give to others and do amazing things for ourselves and for our employees, customers and world. I know that I am a better CEO of my company and a better NAWBO National leader when I make time for the things that fill me up—my family, my fitness, my church and my volunteer work.

So how do we do that? Here are a few tips:

  • Believe you deserve time to yourself. Stop feeling guilty for taking time out for you, and realize in the long run, it’s a win-win for everyone.
  • Decide how to best spend your time. How each of us chooses to spend free time is as individualized as we all are. Write a list and keep it handy when you begin scheduling time into your calendar.
  • Identify things that waste your time. Are you glued to your e-mail all day? Or do you spend hours in meetings? Rethink how you approach your responsibilities and you will gain more free time.
  • Learn to say “no.” Don’t do things that you don’t really want to unless the end result is worth it.
  • Ask for help. At work, at home and even in NAWBO, there’s power in numbers. Ask for help in completing tasks that don’t require your personal attention.
  • Include “me time” when you plan your day or week. Treat your personal time like you would any other appointment and make it non-negotiable. Schedule a daily ritual, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, that you can look forward to.

What fills you up most and makes you feel “well?” I’d love to hear from you!

—Teresa Meares, 2016-2017 NAWBO National Board Chair