As an entrepreneur, life can be overwhelming.

When chasing objectives, running to meet milestones, working to achieve everyday must-dos, fighting the inevitable fires, and then working hard to be a good partner at home, it is easy to lose sight of yourself.

Stay with me here; I know that many of us don’t completely forget about our personal development. We set ourselves more objectives, more to-dos, more ambitious plans to achieve. But I think that we often paradoxically do so while losing sight of our very wellbeing.

The Hero culture of our societies, the success stories on the cover of magazines, rarely tell the hardship of trying to shuffle everything. It rather depicts these hugely successful people who get up every day at 4 in the morning to get more work done, go to bed late at night, and magically stay healthy and sane. They show how working more seems to be the key to more success and more success the key to finding more time for yourself..Indeed it is only when you are a billionaire and can afford to pay people to take care of every aspect of your life that you can create more time for yourself and be fulfilled, isn’t it?

Until about a year, a year and a half ago, I was always frustrated.

No matter what I was trying, I was not able to find the time I needed for myself.

I had the feeling to be serving my company, serving my dear ones, but never to have enough space to serve myself directly.

As a happy entrepreneur, in a long term relationship, my commitments and responsibilities were smothering me as much as they were making me happy.

I was unable to stick to the other things I wanted to do that I needed do: read, take long walks, write, exercise, and learn something new every day.

But it is no longer the case.

Change for me started when I managed to label my frustration by observing the content of what I was telling my partner in life and business during our increasingly frequent arguments.

I realized that I, a giver, had nothing much left to give. I realized I was nearing exhaustion and struggling to find satisfaction. I knew that I couldn’t give because I was empty. When I thought about it, I realized that no, I was not empty because people were not giving me enough. I was empty because I was not giving enough to the person who needed me most: myself.

I took multiple trials at trying to insert times in my schedule, times dedicated exclusively to activities aiming to help me recharge. There were 15 minutes to learn something new just before lunchtime, 45 minutes to take a walk and listen to a podcast somewhere in the morning, 2 hours to exercise in the afternoon a few times a week, and so on.

For a few years, systematically and after a usually successful start, these scheduled times were, first, consciously overlooked because of more important businesses and, then, completely forgotten.

I started to realize that inserting this me-time during the day didn’t work for me. It didn’t fit my rhythm and lifestyle. It was not taking into account my tendency to prioritize my commitments to others over my obligations to myself.

This was when I figured out that the best time for me to focus on myself was before people or circumstances could ask anything from me. Yes, the morning routine, the very technique of the billionaires but aimed at one thing: taking care of myself.

Since then, I have been waking up every day early enough to give myself 3 hours of me-time before starting my day of work. Why 3? Well, based on my initial estimates, it so appeared to be how long I needed to accomplish my new routine in the most pleasurable and rewarding way. Based on my experience now, I could even use more, and I might try and squeeze in an extra 30 minutes without, however, compromising on my sleep.

Weekly I now have 21 hours that I dedicate entirely to myself. My life has changed. All aspects of my life.

I am back to being able to give. I am back to being able to be generous with my time and energy without doing it at the expense of my own health and wellbeing.

To do so I guard my me-time carefully. And believe me, as much as a giver I can be, now that I have experienced the impact of this new habit on my life and the ones of the people around me, this is something that I will never give away.

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Hi! I am an entrepreneur, social innovator, sustainability advocate, tech4good practitioner, as well as a speaker and advisor. I have chosen to dedicate my life to making a positive impact by inventing solutions to our biggest challenges and helping others be successful at achieving their mission. I love tech & innovation and work to build a fairer and more sustainable world. You can follow me on twitter at Valeria Duflot (@DuflotValeria), connect on Linkedin and learn more about me and my work at: valeriaduflot.com

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