Yes, you read that right.
Sometimes your career should be your LAST priority. Like, dead last.
I bet that sounds crazy coming from a gal like me, right? I’m a career coach – one who believes very strongly in career as a pillar of happiness, fulfillment, stability, and even health. I spend my days helping people navigate their way to feel-good work because I know just how important career is to growth and wellness and let’s not forget that minor little detail of putting food in mouths and roofs over heads.
So why on earth would I suggest that sometimes your career should be your last priority? Because sometimes that’s exactly where it belongs – right at the very bottom of your list.
I recently worked with a woman who has had the year from hell and is dealing with grief, legal issues, and major health concerns. She needs to heal. But she feels like it’s irresponsible and even a little bit selfish to focus on herself and her healing before progressing in her career.
It’s not. It’s exactly what she should focus on right now. And not just because self care is important, which it is. But also because self care is often the best strategic priority – not just in your personal life, but for your career, as well.
Think back to the last time that you were hanging by a thread – when you were burned out, struggling with your physical, mental, or emotional health. Maybe you were racked with anxiety, deep in a depression, lost in a debilitating brain fog, or struggling with exhaustion.
Would you say you were at your best, mentally, during this time? Super sharp? Bringing your A Game to all of your work? Probably not.
And who could blame you? You were barely holding it together. It’s hard enough to get up to bat when you’re in a haze like that, let alone hit a home run.
It’s way more likely that you’ll hit a home run when you can actually see clearly, when you feel strong, when you have your wits about you.
And yet many of us (yes, I include myself here) who are Type A, super ambitious, and out to conquer the world, try to push through and move forward at a time that makes the least sense to do so.
But we want to keep going! Keep climbing! Keep moving! We have the will! We have the grit! Just not, you know, the mental bandwidth. Not while everything else is going to hell in a handbasket.
Which is where self care as strategy comes in. Because it’s nearly impossible to make good long-term decisions for yourself – for your work, for your business, for anything – when you’re dealing with other, more urgent issues.
I’m not suggesting that you tell all of your colleagues to shove it, take your life savings and move to Bali. I’m just talking about slowing down, taking smaller bites, pressing pause.
Maybe you don’t push for partner at the firm while grieving the loss of your father.
Maybe you don’t go for the promotion while negotiating custody of your kids.
Maybe you don’t pitch to business investors while you’re still recovering from surgery.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do those things if they feel good to you. I’m just saying think about it, and let yourself off the hook a little. You might be more equipped to make better, clearer decisions in a few weeks, a few months, a year from now.
Take care of yourself. If you find it hard to give yourself permission to do that for the sake of healing and restoration, know that taking care of yourself is also one of the strongest strategic moves you can make.
Published at Entrepreneur.