To serve others, we need to first serve ourselves

Posted by | October 1, 2019 | For your career, How to be awesome at your job

To serve others, we need to first serve ourselves

By Vicki Evans

Hands up if you feel confident you’re doing enough to support your own wellbeing?

We for-purpose folks work hard to achieve meaningful impact for, and with, those we serve.

And because of this, it’s not uncommon for our own needs to slip down the list of priorities.

Given the pressures faced in the for-purpose world, it’s understandable that this is the case. 

Due to the urgency and sheer volume of work that needs doing, it’s easy to get caught up in non-stop doing. This mode has us running on auto-pilot, powering through our to-do list faster than a charging bull. If only we could work harder, faster, smarter, and squeeze more out of every second. 

It’s no surprise we feel more like machines at times than the living, breathing beings we are.

At times like these, the idea of taking time out for ourselves can feel frivolous and contrary to our goals.

The irony is that taking time out when we find ourselves in this mode is the very best thing we can do, not only for our work, and the impact we want to create, but for our own wellbeing too. Taking time out creates space to think differently, reflect, gain perspective, and have creative breakthroughs of the type we just wouldn’t achieve while chained to our desks. And it’s important to remind ourselves – and often – that we can best serve others when we fill our own cup first.

So how exactly do you do this whilst juggling a full-to-bursting schedule of work, voluntary commitments, and the rest of life?

There’s certainly no shortage of tips and tricks out there to help us prioritise our wellbeing. My recommendation, particularly for those who are no stranger to feeling overwhelmed, is to keep it very simple. That’s because we’re far more likely to succeed if we work towards small, simple shifts that we can actually sustain. 

With that in mind, carving out ten minutes for the following exercise will equip you with some simple steps to fill your own cup first, which you can put into action immediately.

Step 0ne – Reconnect to your why

Remembering that we can best serve our cause if we look after ourselves first, I invite you to reconnect to your why.

  • What impact do you want to have in your work?
  • What change do you want to see in Aotearoa or the world?

Don’t overthink this. One or two sentences is ample.

Step two – What fills your cup

Brainstorm a list of simple activities and habits that fill your cup, and support you to operate at your best. We’re looking for things like evenings off with family, not checking emails after 6pm, daily check-ins with a trusted friend at work, or walking twice a week. Make sure the ones you choose resonate for you. 

Now, identify which single one contributes most to your sense of wellbeing. Which is most instrumental to your wellbeing? And how often does it need to happen?

Step three – Look back to look forward

Think back over the last three months. How consistently have you done this activity versus your ideal? Be honest with yourself. 

If it’s been fairly consistent, consider what factors have contributed. If it’s been less frequent than your ideal, or non-existent, what’s got in the way?

Make a new commitment to yourself based on what you know now. Write yourself a short note that outlines the activity, how often you want to do it, and how you plan to overcome any barriers. 

Display it somewhere you’ll see it often – whether on your phone, a post-it on your desk, or on your bedside table.

That’s it! Go forth and fill your cup. You can repeat this process anytime, remembering to aim for progress rather than rigid perfection. Remember to acknowledge yourself for making this renewed commitment to your own wellbeing. And take time to relish in the changes it brings you.


About Vicki Evans, Certified Coach 

Vicki has always been driven by making the world a better place and recently made the jump to full-time coaching at Vicki Evans Coaching (amongst other for-purpose pursuits). She’s a Certified Martha Beck Coach who specialises in supporting purpose-driven folks to drop stress and self-pressure, reconnect to their why, and live + work with greater ease. 

Prior to this, she worked in programme and funding management in the for-purpose world across central and local government, the health system, philanthropy, and always closely alongside NGOs + social enterprises.  

Some of her favourite things include tramping, coffee, animal whispering, and driving her partner mad with her decluttering obsession.

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