Why Self-Care is Critical to Long-Lasting Success
In her new book, Ariana Ayu shows readers how to tap into your mojo and achieve authentic success. Rule number 1: Prioritize self-care.
In her new book, The Magic of Mojo: The Creative Power Behind Success, Ariana Ayu teaches entrepreneurs and other high-achieving individuals to tap into your mojo for greater personal AND professional success.
Self-care is really looked down upon in our culture. At best, we pay lip service to it. We may say that its important, but if you were to see somebody who, instead of working 40-hour weeks decided that they could only work a 30-hour week because they needed the extra time for sleep, nutrition, exercise, or otherwise for caring for their physical body, many people would look at that person and say, “They just can’t hack it in the real world.” That person would be looked at with derision (and probably envy), and even if they got the same amount of work done as everyone else, would probably be considered somehow “less than.”
Our culture doesn’t reward self-care either. Almost everyone I know has at some point in their lives worked a job that felt menial or below their abilities. The trick in those situations always seemed to be working just the right amount so you didn’t get into trouble, but also so you didn’t have to do any extra. If you did the same amount of work as everybody else (despite being capable of doing more) then you would go relatively unnoticed. If you did more work than everyone else, you would definitely be noticed, but this could either be good or bad.
If you were noticed by other employees, they might dislike you because you were “making them look bad” to management. Their concern would be that management might increase their workload, and they’d have to work harder. If you were noticed by management, you would probably be praised and then given more work to do. You would now be expected to pick up slack for any employees who weren’t pulling their weight, and probably not for any extra pay. In that situation, there’s not a huge amount of external motivation to achieve more and do better. If you do more and are just given more work as your reward, that doesn’t feel very satisfying.
I always felt that if I could do more in less time, then I should be able to work fewer hours. Now, in a retail shop where the hours are based on a schedule and not performance, you can’t really get away with that, but in a corporate environment, it always felt awkward. I would much rather have been a salaried employee so I could get my work done and leave instead of being required to work a specific (and seemingly arbitrary) number of hours.
For example, in college, I took a job as a temporary worker, and I was hired out to a company that wanted people for data processing. It wasn’t complicated and it didn’t take a particularly long time; however, when I arrived the first week, they didn’t actually have any data for us to enter. It was supposed to be orientation, but there was nothing for us to do. I read through the employee handbook and did the computer-based training that was assigned and I asked what was next. I was simply told to wait, because I had done everything they wanted us to do for that week in less than four hours.
So I waited. Instead of being able to leave, go home, and be free, I had to sit there for all eight hours with nothing more to do. (There was no Internet on these computers so I couldn’t even surf the web!) I played so much computer solitaire that before the end of the first week, I quit. I couldn’t fathom that I was being paid to sit there and just wait for somebody to give me work to do. It was miserable.
By making me sit there for all of those wasted hours, I couldn’t do any of the things that were really important to me. Now, earning money was important to me, but it wasn’t the most important thing. I also valued having time to myself, time to relax, time to cook healthy meals, or time to read interesting books, (I couldn’t even read books while I was sitting there for those extra hours because we had to look like we were working on the computers, even if there was no work for us to do.) It didn’t align with my values and it felt completely meaningless in my life.
As entrepreneurs though, we can incorporate self-care into our routines because we are not typically bound by the same kind of time constraints I had as a temporary worker. We can give ourselves permission to be efficient and take the time we need to nurture and nourish ourselves.
In that temporary job, if I had been allowed to do my work, go home, and get paid a flat fee, I would have been the best employee they’d ever seen. I would have done my work extremely well and efficiently, and I would have been a satisfied, well-rounded person. I could have easily done the work they had for me and they would have been very happy with my results. I probably would have taken half-hour lunches (instead of the required hour), worked short days, gotten a lot accomplished, and still had time to study and do other things that were important to me. I would’ve had time both for work and self-care.
The studies I’ve seen on productivity and efficiency all suggest that taking care of ourselves makes us better workers, because again, we are part of nature. We ARE nature. We can’t deny the physical, biological needs of the human body. That’s where self- care becomes really critical. On a basic level, self-care is about understanding that our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits all have needs that cannot be denied without consequence.
The great thing is that there are more ways to practice self-care than there are people! There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so you can do what you like! That said, I believe in practicing loving self-care on a daily basis. It’s part of my philosophy of how to live your ideal luxurious lifestyle, and as it’s your ideal lifestyle, you have to find what works for you.
Personally, I take the time to listen to my body. I pay attention to what’s going on in my mind and in my feelings. When things are out of whack, I attempt to do something to correct that. It doesn’t mean that I’m perfect. It doesn’t mean that I don’t ever have stressful days or take my negative emotions out on people who don’t deserve it. I try really hard not to, but it happens, because I’m human and because I’m still a work in progress–as we all are.
Practicing daily self-care is critical to your health and well-being. When you’re out of your mojo, learning to relax and nurture yourself is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself; in fact, sometimes it’s all you can do. Sometimes there are just no results to be had, and that’s when it’s time to move into in a state of acceptance. For many people, this is easier to understand when you recognize that, as a part of nature you are subject to natural law. The bears hibernate for a reason. The trees shed their flowers and leaves for a reason. There are some timings that we just cannot force.
So, if instead of trying to force things to happen when they cannot, you take care of yourself and use the time to breathe and reflect, you will be able to create. Use that space of infinite possibility to create something magical because you’re not busy fighting yourself. That’s the beauty of self-care; it gives you space for whatever you need, be it healing, rejuvenation, or simply peace.