For our spring break my family took a trip to Playa Santana in Nicaragua. We love adventure travel and the opportunity to explore new places and cultures. Playa Santana is a remote surfing village on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. We chose to visit for the great surfing and the opportunity for my wife and daughter to learn to surf. We stayed at a great boutique hotel, Buena Onda Beach Resort. The trip provided some much needed downtime and allowed me to reconnect with nature and the ocean.
Each evening of the trip, my family and I would venture down to the beach to watch the epic sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. Each evening as we enjoyed the sunset I notice that Gilles and Aurelie, the two operators of the hotel were also down on the beach enjoying the sunset. At dinner one evening I asked Gilles about the fact that he and his wife were watching the sunset as well. He commented that when he moved to Nicaragua he committed to doing two things each day for himself.
1) Watch the sunset each day with his wife
2) Get in the water every day. Whether it is to surf or just to swim.
I loved the fact that Gilles was so deliberate in choosing two things to do each and every day just for himself. His daily rituals of watching the sunset and getting in the water made me question whether I had my own daily rituals and I struggled to find any. I questioned my wife about whether she had any and she too struggled to identify any. This was a good point of reflection for me. As an executive coach who helps leaders to become more self-aware and to find more happiness in their lives, I had a realization that I was not heeding my own advice.
Life gets too busy and we fall into the trap of living our lives to meet the expectations of others. We drown in our commitments and leave ourselves with too little time to do the things that are important to us. We all need more “me” time and the only way that will ever happen is if we make a conscious effort to carve out time for ourselves.
We drown in our commitments and leave ourselves with too little time to do the things that are important to us.
A challenge to you, the reader of this article, for the next two weeks commit to two things you will do every day for yourself. Indulge yourself in the activity and commit it to a habit. By taking that extra time to meet your personal needs, you will become more attentive and more patient with the needs of others. The actions could be simple things like making a journal entry every day to capture your reflections on the day, calling a loved one on the phone every day, walking the dog for 30 minutes each day, reading a novel for one hour a day, hugging your kids and telling them you love them every day, etc. You own the activity and the goal is to do it because it makes you feel good. Think of this as a selfish act that fulfills something that has been missing in your life.
Your goal is to create a daily ritual that selfishly fulfills something that was missing in your life. I know of many people who dream of one day living near the beach only to move to a beach town and then never take the time to go and enjoy the beach. The key is to not feel guilt for taking time for yourself.
So much has been written about servant leadership and being selfless. Through my own personal experience, I am finding that to be a good selfless leader, one needs to take the time to be a bit of a selfish leader too. Being selfish and selfless can go hand in hand. It is a matter of balancing ones time and effort.
To Gilles and Aurelie, thanks for the life lesson and for being such good hosts during our time in Nicaragua.