Have you ever noticed that ambition and wellbeing don’t exactly go hand in hand? They can feel as if they are two different forces, pulling in opposite directions.
In one direction, there’s ambition. It’s hungry for every second of your time, pushing you to work harder, work faster, work smarter, and embody what it means to hustle. It tells you that you shouldn’t need time to recharge. Your dreams should keep you energized. And when that fails, coffee.
In the other sits wellbeing. It’s kinder, encouraging you to invest in yourself. To love yourself. To care for yourself. It proclaims the necessity for reenergizing and reflecting. It’s the complete opposite of “full steam ahead.”
As these forces pull in opposite directions, many of us sit somewhere in the middle. But more often than not, we move closer towards ambition than wellbeing because the second we reject ambition, it has a funny way of making us feel wildly guilty.
At the end of the day, though, our wellbeing is paramount to our ability to pursue our passions. We know that. At least, we know the physical benefits of investing in our wellbeing. But I kind of think the spiritual benefits are the real game changers.
At the center of the wellbeing conversation you’ll find seemingly unending buzz about self-care, and for good reason. It sounds nice, doesn’t it? Candles. Journaling. Soulful books. Meditation. Tea. It all sounds so calming and peaceful. The challenge does not lie in the appeal of self-care, but rather the pressure to use our time for more traditionally productive purposes.
Personally, I’ve put time for self-care on my calendar more times than I care to admit, only to disregard the notification and shift my attention to the next item on my to do list. I’ve found it’s often easier to invest in my work than invest in myself.
However, with a little bit of practice, I’ve started to learn that the real trick with self-care is to find or create the environment that will encourage the prioritization of wellbeing.
For me, that means coming home to my cozy New York City apartment, picking up my favorite wine and some New Jersey peaches from the corner store, lighting a candle, and sitting out on my fire escape, which overlooks a tiny community garden.
There’s something special that happens when I climb out onto my fire escape. It’s almost as if the rest of me registers that this is a time for myself. Not my work responsibilities. Not my unanswered emails or texts. Not my unaddressed pile of laundry. In fact, when I signed the lease for this apartment over a year ago, that was one of its best selling points: a fire escape that looked over a garden. At that time, I told myself I would be out there all the time.
I broke that promise.
Because promises to invest in ourselves and the life we want, are the easiest promises to break.
The life many of us want does include caring about ourselves. We want to feel as fulfilled in our relationship with our careers as we do in our relationship with our souls. But perhaps we’ve been doing the whole self-care thing all wrong. Maybe it’s less of looking outward for self-care practices and more of looking inward for what speaks to us as individuals.
I know one of the most calming things I can do for myself is to set goals. The possibility of a promising tomorrow, one I can in some way contribute to, brings me immense peace. So often, I sit on my fire escape and plan. Other days I’ll read a soul-enriching book. Or I’ll listen to an uplifting podcast.
The idea of spending time planning may bring someone else extreme anxiety. And while we are huge advocates of having a vision of what you would like the future to hold, that doesn’t mean goal setting needs to be a part of a self-care ritual. That also doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a part of mine.
No matter the self-care practice, if it’s coming from the intention to truly care for your spirit, it is coming from the right place.
The key in investing in yourself is to find exactly what it is that brings you peace and encourages you to put yourself first, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Create that recipe for the self-care environment your soul needs. It may look the same as every self-care listicle on the internet or it may be one-of-a-kind. That’s not the important part.
The value lies in getting honest with yourself and answering the simple question: what brings you peace?
It may simply be making your bed every morning or taking the scenic route on your morning commute. Whatever it is, find what speaks to you.
Thank you Pier 1 Imports for partnering with us on this post!