You’ve likely heard the saying “pay yourself first” before. It's one of the most important pieces of financial advice you can follow. But many of us don’t listen. We cover our expenses and then our savings are an afterthought.
This also translates to other areas of life. How many times have we had projects due for others that we prioritize over the work we have to get done for ourselves? Or we say yes to someone asking us for help even when that means sacrificing valuable free time or time doing something for ourselves.
When you get on a plane, you hear a similar directive. Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. We may not be flying as much anymore, but the regular reminder should not become background noise. You have to put yourself first financially, emotionally and physically, otherwise one day you won’t be in a position to help anyone with anything.
We’ve talked a lot about prioritizing, knowing your core values, and creating healthy routines. But it is important that we stress that none of that even matters if you can’t afford to pay an unexpected expense, or aren’t healthy enough to work because you’ve been pushing yourself too hard.
Pay yourself first. Pay yourself by putting the money away that you need in savings before paying your bills. Pay yourself by blocking out free time in your calendar and not letting anyone fill it, no matter how important they say it is. Pay yourself by getting your work done first, and then turning to help others, whether it be coworkers, clients or friends.
The reality is, no one cares as much about you as you do. If you don’t put yourself first and pay yourself first, no one is going to do it for you. Note that we aren’t saying “don’t help others” or “it’s all about you”. You should not avoid helping others, but rather help them once you feel confident that YOU are in a good place with your own to do list to add another line.
We all know what can happen when we bite off more than we can chew. The likely result is that our own work sits and waits while the work owed to others gets finished up because we feel pressure from others to get it done. We have to flip that on its head. We must make ourselves first priority, and once that priority is complete, then we can go on and help everyone else.
Pay attention this week to your priorities. Where do they fall on the list of your to dos? Start off your list with the big things YOU need to accomplish. Then add what everyone else needs you to do, and work in that order.
And remember, pay yourself first. This mantra is important to remember, whether it’s your bank account, your calendar or your inbox. The more we repeat this phrase and put it into practice, the better off we’ll be, and the better we’ll be able to help others.