Coach Me: I Feel Guilty Putting Myself First

I'm a freelance designer and work-at-home-mom to a feisty 15-month-old.  I want to keep my business and have a happy kid and husband and an orderly house.  I'm doing an okay job at all this, but have trouble prioritizing anything else–hobbies, me time, fun, or exercise–without a horrible sense of guilt that I should be doing something else!  I can't seem to put myself first without feeling like a jerk.  How can I overcome this? –Rebecca

Throw away the guilt.  It’s a self-created emotion.  Negative energy focused inward is so much more powerful when you turn it into positive energy focused outward. For just a moment, forget you asked it and focus as objectively as you can on the following description of my friend. We’ll call her Jane.

Jane is an entrepreneur who contributes to her family finances through her successful business.  She is lucky enough to be able to manage her growing business from home, which allows her to oversee the care of her young child. She is the backbone of her company, the primary care-giver to her child, an interested and involved wife, and her family’s shopper, laundress, housekeeper, first-aid specialist, chef, chauffeur, scheduler, travel agent and financial planner.

If Jane asked you the question you posed, what would you tell her?  If you’re objective, probably that she’s remarkable.  That you’re in awe of the way she juggles so many responsibilities so well.  And you’d probably also tell her that it’s about time she added something like “takes care of her family’s greatest asset” to that list.

Rebecca, you are your family’s greatest asset.  And nothing in your family succeeds and thrives without you being healthy, happy and spiritually fulfilled.  Ironically, you taking time for yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give not just yourself–but your family as well.

So, spend a few hours in a museum to inspire the designer in you.  Take an exercise class to stay healthy and to set a positive example for your child.  Explore a hobby for the joy of it and take that joy into everything you do.  And sit and gaze at the stars with your husband and be thankful you are actively creating an inspired life.

Chris Tardio is a trusted advisor and business coach to a dynamic range of women business leaders. She can be reached at

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