Pay yourself first

With so many tasks to complete and so many ideas I want to start, it’s often difficult to point out to myself which tasks are directly related to my paycheck. It seems everything I spend time on will have an impact or has a potential for an impact. However, when I really break it down, only a few are immediately associated with the stream of actual tangible income.

pay yourself first panda by jgoode

Really, is the topic today about financial issues and earning incoming?
No, not for me.

In times like these, where money is tighter and sales aren’t necessarily growing, it is indeed important to focus on where the money is coming from – do the tasks that will result in the best (not necessarily largest or fastest) return. However, for me the emotional bank account is what seems to be taking the greatest hit.

I am finding that the more people I worry about and the more tasks I assign myself, the less I’m taking care of myself. Really, we’re supposed to take care of ourselves first, right? How is that possible when we have kids and spouses and extended family and friends and associates and colleagues and even the new unknown people we are trying to connect with… all around us… all the time? The answer isn’t “take some alone time” nor is it “shorten your list”, all of these people and things I do are my inspiration and my brainfood – they are truly my happiness.

You are my happiness.

sad panda by jgoode

Yet there are days I feel like the one alone in the middle of the crowd.
Why is that? Well, I have a theory…

All of these people I surround myself have their own set of needs and tasks and others they too need to take care of. I can ask for assistance or recognition or whatever I need, all day long, but I am the only one that is capable of knowing what I need at any given moment. If I am spending all my time worrying about what everyone else needs, I’m not listening to myself — so how can I expect anyone else to?

I’m not sure either, but I do it anyway.

I rely on others, especially family, to listen, pay attention and offer what I need to feel important in the circle. When they don’t – from my perspective – come through, I feel let down and then disappointed or forgotten.. and usually unimportant which then turns into a feeling of wondering if they really love me anyway. How draining. So how do I fix this? I’m not quite sure. My instinct says if I do for me first, I’m being selfish, but my gut says if I don’t do for me first… who will? I think the right answer is, its a fine balance and we should be able to expect from others, but on their terms, not ours.

This is not an easy concept for me to accept.

I’ve said for years, when you love someone, you need to love them how they need it, not how you think they need it. Yet, I need to learn to take care of myself with what I know I need yet also learn to accept what I receive is the gesture I am looking for, just not in the packaging I expected. I think in reality there is a middle ground – we need to love others as they need it, yet we need to appreciate the love as we are given as well – give them the same value.

hugging panda by jgoodeWhere is this middle ground and how do you find your own comfort sitting there? I don’t have an answer for that either.

So for today, I’ll just work on paying myself first –

Happiness is a Matter of Perspective

There are as many ways to feel happy as there are photos to show happiness.

Everyone has their own set of needs and requirements to feel whole, to feel special, to be happy. How much do we really pay attention to how others need to feel happiness, before we try to make them happy?

Not everyone needs the same things or the same approaches to really feel important. Some need to be surrounded by happiness while others are their own happiness. Little do many of us realize, sometimes those overly sunshiney faces, you know, the ones that appear to be happy all the time… aren’t. And the grumps in the world aren’t grumpy at all, they just don’t have a need to grin at our every comment.

What happens when we stop to think about all of this in how we show others we care or we think we’re making others happy? I was reminded this holiday season that what I need, to know someone cares, and how I show someone I care isn’t always what they do for me or need from me.


Confused yet?

It isn’t easy to see all the variables… that is what I realized. But the sooner we realize our needs and our own giving don’t have to match our receiving and our sharing, the sooner we can get on with appreciating and maybe giving what is needed.

Let me explain…

What you need to feel special or happy and how you think you need to tell/show someone else that they are special, is not necessarily the same things others will do for you or need to hear/see from you.


Example, those flowers the guy brings to his girlfriend every time he sees her, really are a sweet gesture. Little does  he know, she just prefers a hug or a little note. Or worse, shes allergic. They haven’t talked about it – he wants to show he cares and she wants to show she’s appreciative regardless.

Happiness is a matter of perspective.

So how do we work with this? The easy answer…  don’t worry about it. Just do your best to show those you care about, that you care, as often as you can however you think you need to. Also appreciate the love you are given the way it is given and all shall be smiley.

Peace , Love and Happiness

No, that’s not right. Thats nice and smiley and plastic. Real love and appreciation isn’t plastic, it’s truly organic.

The real answer… Communicate. Find out what makes others happy and try your hardest to make them happy, how they like to be happy. Share your needs with others so they can do the same for you. Sure, be appreciative for the time and opportunities you have to share and show the love. But go that one step further to make it all truly unique and you honestly yours.

Here’s a simple example.

From a materialistic perspective… My 13 year old son, like many 13 year olds love getting “things”. He especially LOVEs gift cards to places like Walmart and Target. He is also a big fan of cash. Sure, he loves gifts and surprises, family time and (shh, it’s a secret) hugs… but there are always things he wants that are not on the buying list from any one person. So as a result he likes to combine gifts to get the dream item on the list. The counter thought to that is, I really dislike giving gift cards. I’d rather put more thought and effort into paying attention to what someone likes, search for that perfect gift, maybe even make a special gift and spend time and effort picking it out. I feel like I am better able to shout out “you are so special to me” with my gift buying skills. Really, my perspective on gifts is for my own happiness in the gift giving experience than it is for my son and what he would like to receive.

Perspectives on what makes us each happy are just as diverse.

Stephen Covey shared a story about a father who spent his summer traveling around the country to visit baseball fields and games for every team. When the man was questioned about his love for baseball he commented back – I don’t love baseball, but I do love my son that much.

The big question or me this past holiday season was
How do we really view how we make others happy?

And better yet, when we do things for others, who are we really trying to make happy?

Happy Pig

I tend to really enjoy the holiday season because it’s a time of year I can justify planning parties – spending time with some of my favorite people. I love getting my friends and family together and seeing everyone all in one place. I love all the smiling faces in my own home. However, this year was too crazy and too involved in too many directions to host the annual Goode party. On top of that, the kids got sick at the same time we had planned to see local family before we left town to visit inlaws. We made arrangements to meet up when we returned home… but I left town sad and hurt. I hadn’t seen a single person and here I was leaving town… and it was Christmas.


No one else seemed nearly as upset as I felt and I couldn’t figure out why. So I stopped to think about this. What I realized was, the party planning and family gathering wasn’t for everyone else as I always thought it was. Sure, everyone enjoys getting together and seeing eachother. But really, the events in themselves were for me. I needed to see everyone to feel the holiday happiness and know they knew I was thinking about them. When I didn’t see a single person, it just didn’t feel like the holidays. I didn’t feel like I had had the opportunity to give anyone anything.

Then it hit me. We were leaving town, they weren’t – we made other plans, they were ok with it – we told everyone how much we loved them and we would see them soon, they were happy.  I felt the disappointment and sadness because I didn’t get what I needed… to see them happy.

So the moral of the story in my own world… require happy photos when I can’t see actual faces and all will be well.

Finding out what we need ourselves is just as important to find out what others need.

When we know what makes us truly happy, we can share this with those who care about us. We can avoid the disappointment by seeing what others do for us or give to us in their own way, knowing they’re happy having intended to make us happy too.