How to Make Yourself a Priority

You have 6 hours of homework to do, but Bailey’s birthday lunch is today. 

You haven’t slept in days, but Grace asked you to take her shift tonight. 

You just want to lay in bed and watch the last season of Friends, but you have a sorority event at 8. 

Why do we ignore our needs to please others? Why do we go out of the way for people who wouldn’t do the same? Why are they more important? 

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve replaced my own wants/needs for someone else’s. I loved being the friend that anyone could count on, I took pride in it. But it was frickin exhausting. I constantly missed out on the things that I genuinely wanted to do, I barely slept, I didn’t get things done when I wanted to do them, the list goes on. The funny thing is, that’s not even why I stopped. 

I stopped trying so hard to please people because I realized 5 things. 

  • No matter how much I gave people, it wasn’t enough. 
  • People usually didn’t realize the sacrifices I made for them, or they just weren’t thankful.
  • They never reciprocated the energy I gave them. 
  • People started to expect things of me, and got upset when I couldn’t comply.
  •  I realized that their needs aren’t more important than mine.

So, how do you make yourself the priority? 

Create non-negotiable rules: If you do something for someone, you should be able to do it without inconveniencing yourself. Make sure to establish your ground rules before agreeing to help. – I’m happy to give you a ride to campus as long as you can be ready by the time I’m leaving. 

Learn how to say no: It’s okay to say no. It’s even okay to let people be upset with you for a moment. (That took me forever to understand.) Just be firm and respectful. – Thanks for the offer, but honestly, I haven’t been lazy in forever and I just want to chill and watch Netflix today. 

Realize when it’s time to take a time out: It’s normal to get tired. Physically tired, tired of someone else, tired of doing something, etc. Learn when you’re reaching your limits and take a time out before it’s too much. – I’m kinda run down from going out every weekend, I’ll catch up next Friday. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help: If you have a million things to do and you’ve made a few too many commitments, it’s okay to ask someone to help out. Everyone needs help every once in a while. – Hey Claire, I’ve got a paper due at midnight on Monday and would really like some more time to work on it. Would you mind taking my shift at 6 tomorrow?

Don’t let people manipulate you into things: This is the hardest task of them all. Don’t let people tell you that you should do something because they’d do it for you, or that you’re a bad friend if you don’t, or that you aren’t worth their time if you can’t.


Schedule each day around your wants/needs: What are your top 3 priorities everyday? Are they the same or different each day? Block out a certain amount of time each day for each purpose. This could be 5 minutes, an hour, whatever you want it to be. – I want to go to church more, so I’m going to start blocking off Sunday mornings to go. 

Self reflect: If you feel like there isn’t enough time in the day, you’re too good of a friend, you miss out on things you want to do, or you just aren’t happy for some reason – you’re probably not putting yourself first or prioritizing. Find what makes you happy and make the time to do it. Going to the gym makes me feel good, so I wake up at 7 every morning to make the time before work/school. 

Remember that you deserve to be your top priority. Know the difference between helping someone and being their servant. Don’t be afraid to have the hard conversations that will allow you to do what’s best for you.

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