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You, First

Consider this a PSA to keep your sanity, and sense of self.

There was an article on Inc. this morning — “Stop using these 20 phrases at work.” Total click bait. At the end of that unsurprising article there was a sponsored article,“What would you tell your younger self about work?”

And while I didn't read it, it did get me thinking. What would I tell my younger self about working and office life? What do I wish someone told me?

I have clocked many years of work in all kinds of environments, during all different life stages. I have lots to say… but my top three came pretty easily. (And while I know none of this is new, we all could use the reminder.)

1. Skip work, go to the beach. Or the park, or the lake, or the movies, or your favorite neighborhood coffee shop. Walk around, hang out, read a book, go shopping in a real-life store, sit and sip a second latte or an amazing Barolo. When I started working, right out of school, I worked long hours. I worked on the weekend. I worked late. It was okay, I felt good, I felt like a grown up working toward big goals. I just knew the amount of time a person clocked directly impacted office respect, salary, promotions. I was wrong.

What happened? I burned out. I hated work. I was miserable. What I’ve learned? Taking a day off in the middle of the week with no doctor’s appointments or emergency repair reasons, puts you first. I did this once. I did it by myself. No friends, no one around, total last-minute decision and I remember how good it felt all these years later.

2. Don’t ever cancel a plan. I was always cancelling plans because of work. I couldn’t figure out how to do both. I broke promises with myself to go to the gym, go for a run, clean my closet, and I broke plans with friends for dinner and happy hour, and cancelled plans with visits to family so I could get ahead on work. I never stopped doing this, and I regret every time I prioritized work instead of separating the two. Deadlines happen, emergencies come up, but learn to unapologetically put you first when it becomes too much. People will respect that.

3. Find a hobby. There are lots of sides to you, and to your brain. Work is just for one of them. A hobby is a great way to check in with those other sides. It’s something you can feel passionate about, something you can escape into, something that makes you feel good. Something that makes you feel like you. Because face it, work can be stressful, even miserable some days. And it’s important to keep perspective that work is just a part of your life; and you, wonderful you, have many things you seriously rock at.

So my three lessons, really are just one. You, first.

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