One area that I’ve been paying particular attention to recently is self-care. The more I’ve thought about this area, the more I’ve noticed there are actually three ‘selves’ we can be taking care of as adults (in addition to our responsibilities to others).
1) The first self is the ‘in the moment’ self.
Taking care of this self means tending to our immediate physical, mental, and emotional needs. A lot of the advertising and advice is aimed at this self. How can you feel better and be happier right now? Spending time doing activities you enjoy or being a part of environments that feel natural are methods of caring for this self, as are being mindful and practicing gratitude.
2) The second self is the ‘just in case’ self.
Tending to this self means building up reserves in case something goes wrong. These could be monetary, relational, or resilience reserves. Building up a rainy day fund and having health insurance are examples of caring for this self.
3) The third self is our ‘future’ self.
Even if we love our work, it’s a kindness to our older, future self to plan for a time when we won’t be working. Finance gurus (and many parents) hit this future planning area hard. Saving for retirement is a prime example of caring for this self. Creating healthy habits for yourself today is another example of caring for your tomorrow.
I’d like you to consider three very broad categories that span each of these selves: your money, your well-being, and your relationships. Imagine a 3×3 chart. Which ‘self’ are you the best at taking care of? Which area are you putting most of your focus towards? What ‘selves’ or areas are you neglecting?
There are certainly times where it’s appropriate to forego a ‘self’ or an area temporarily. For example, I did not save for retirement for a few of the early years of my business. While this isn’t financially ideal for ‘future’ self, making that sacrifice is part of what helped me through leaner times. There’s also a consequence to this neglect. It means I need to be more aggressive on caring for ‘future’ self for the rest of my working years to catch up.
There are also instances where people neglect the ‘in the moment’ self to push through a busy period or reach a goal. Again, this is not the end of the world. After a short term push you may want to give your ‘in the moment’ self some TLC. For a really extended push there could be consequences to your well-being and relationships that would require even more attention down the road.
My goal with this framework is to help you increase your awareness of how you’re living your life. It’s easy to get sucked into a lifestyle and forget about all of the different ways we can be taking good care of ourselves.
I think this is a really important conversation, and I’d love to hear your answers to some of the questions posed in this article below. Thanks!