Isn’t it interesting how we’ve been trained to generally think of gifts (at the holidays and year-round, as well) as something we do for others? But if you tell someone you bought yourself a gift, the reaction is somehow a little different – as though treating yourself well is selfish, or should come as an afterthought. The fact is, treating yourself well should be your first priority, because it’s only when you treat yourself well that you are healthy, happy, fulfilled, and able to be present – and give of yourself – to the others around you.

I’ll admit, this runs counter to what most of us grew up hearing – but that doesn’t change the fact that we need to be our own self-advocates, which truly means putting our needs first. This does not in any way condone being a jackass and behaving selfishly (e.g., being a roadhog, taking the last cookie every time, demanding constant control of the remote, never having a generous bone in your body). But it means deliberately taking time to do the things we know are good for us. Eating healthy food, sleeping enough, exercising, keeping our space orderly, taking time to relax. How many of those things do we sacrifice on a daily or weekly basis because we have too many “other” things that take priority? The irony is that if the other things are taking priority, you may be putting them first, but you can’t possibly be giving them quality attention if you haven’t first attended to your own needs.

At a recent networking event, we were asked during our introductions to name the personal and business resolution/goal we’d set for the new year. Funny how so many people could name the business resolution, but had a hard time specifying something personal.

What would happen – how would your life change – if you made a concerted effort to take just a little more time for yourself on a regular basis? Take a class in a topic you’ve always wanted to learn more about. Spend 15 or 20 minutes of quiet time reflecting every morning or evening. Go for a daily walk in your neighborhood or at the local track. Read more; watch TV less. Take that bubble bath when the mood strikes. Buy the more expensive brand of tea or coffee. Take time to chat with your neighbor or coworker. Go to church. Buy flowers just because. Prepare your favorite recipe. Play with your kids or pets. Crank up your favorite music and dance! See the movie you want to see.

Finding the perfect gift for someone else has its own special kind of joy – but don’t forget to take time regularly to put yourself at the top of the gift list. You deserve it!