I've asked this question to many different people over the years and the responses always vary. Some of the most common responses are: a spouse, a parent, a child, a friend - or in some cases, several people even say it is their pet...
No matter what the responses have been, I never hear people say "me" - "I am the most important person in my life". When I propose that they should consider themselves as the most important person in their lives, of course many of them think that is a selfish perspective. This created a very spirited debate with my wife...but it led to a very engaging and meaningful conversation. Once you break it down, it begins to make more sense.
The pre-flight safety announcement
I used to travel extensively for work. I would fly 2-3 times per month across the U.S. - earning a platinum status (which simply means I could board a little faster) and an occasional upgraded seat. My interpretation was that I was simply away from my family more than I should have been. At any rate, every single time I was on a flight, the plane never took off without a pre-flight safety announcement and/or demonstration.
One of the key points during the pre-flight safety announcement was - "if cabin pressure should change, an oxygen mask will drop...yadayada...be sure to adjust your own mask first, prior to assisting others." Why? Because the simple fact is that you cannot assist someone else if you are unable to breathe normally.
Now, this is obviously an extreme example, but the point is relevant. No matter what your response is (initially) when the question of "who is the most important person in you life" is asked, if YOU aren't around because YOU didn't take care of YOU first, then it really doesn't matter. That sounds a bit harsh...but it is true.
Who else is going to take better care of you, than you? Sure, there are plenty of very important people in your life who care about you and will do pretty much anything to help you, love you unconditionally, want to see you succeed in everything you do - but they will never be able to take care of (or even know how to take care of) you better than you.
Houston, we have a BIG problem
A little digression for a moment, but it is very much related to the topic.
The World Health Organization released a study in February of 2018 citing that "worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975" and that "in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight - and over 650 million were obese". Not sure about you, but those numbers are staggering to me. The fundamental cause of obesity and being overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended - simply put, they are both within our control (this, of course, excludes the very small population of people who have a medical related issue that is the cause for their obesity/overweight).
The "Uber-ness" of our current state has made it ultra-easy and convenient for us to not have to DO very much in order to obtain food. We have grocery delivery services that will put the groceries in your refrigerator, 1,000's of options to order food online (already prepared or in a box to prepare for yourself), as well as restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores that are a short drive away.
Many jobs that exist today do not require much physical activity or long, sustained periods of movement. Couple these things together and you have a recipe for becoming a sedentary human being who eventually becomes overweight.
Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the convenience of being able to obtain food quickly and easily along with everyone else. I am very grateful that we aren't required to hunt and gather each and every meal in order to survive and thrive. These conveniences that we are fortunate to have in our lifetime should be utilized to save us more time so we can put more energy and focus on the most important person in our life.
Who is writing YOUR script?
If you have ever worked for a company that follows any sort of performance development cycle, then you have likely been provided a "personal development plan" (which is an oxymoron if it has been provided to you) or have been asked to create your own. I often struggled with this for many years - not because I thought I was so good that I did not need developing. I struggled with this because I didn't really know who the most important person was in my life.
When my boss would write out MY personal development plan, it was rare that any development was going to occur based on the plan and it certainly wasn't personal. Typically, I would write out a "personal development plan" for myself that focused on improving a particular skill related to the job. Invariably, the plans (no matter who wrote them) had little to no impact on helping me become a better version of myself.
The cool part about understanding just how important you are in your life as well as the lives of others is you get to write your script. Again, no one knows you better than you and no one will be able to take better care of you than you. Take charge of writing your script, developing your plan, and then - TAKE ACTION.
The 4% guide
Everyone gets the same amount of time each day - 24 hours. When you break it down into 1 hour segments, those segments represent 4% of your day. What does the average day look like for you?
On average, many people spend 32% of their day sleeping and another 32% working. That leaves 36% (or 9 hours) remaining for everything else. EVERY situation is different, of course, but how many people are using at least 4% of their day to become a better version of themselves so they can be there for all of the other VERY important people in their lives? Unfortunately, not as many as there should be.
On the other hand, how much time out of your day is dedicated to taking care of someone else or other people? Whether you are doing homework with your children, helping solve big issues for your company/clients, caring for an elderly parent, taking your furry family member for a walk - or any other time that is dedicated to the other very important people in your life, you also have to take care of YOU.
Take an inventory of your daily routine and find a way to carve out 4% (1 hour) of time for YOU. Yes - this might mean that you have to change a few things around in your schedule, but remember, if you aren't around for the long-haul, then you aren't doing yourself or the other people who care about you any favors.
My best practice is first thing in the morning when no one else is yet awake. I have not been a lifelong fan of getting up early, but once I discovered that I was important, I made it a habit to start my day out a little earlier so I could work on becoming a better version of myself. When I started to make my routine a habit, I found that an hour wasn't enough so I had to get up even earlier and now spend two hours of time to work on becoming a better version of me.
What will you do during this time? Since it is a "personal" development plan, that is totally up to you of course. For those who need some ideas to help them get started - here are a few suggestions:
1. Exercise - get the blood flowing early in order to help you sustain your energy for the rest of the day.
2. Read - pick a topic that you want to learn more about in order to enhance or learn a new skill.
3. Meditate - spend some time sitting in silence focusing on just "being in the moment" or focus on the things for which you are grateful.
4. Write - there is incredible power in writing out your thoughts first thing in the morning (try no to simply write out your "to-do" list for the day).
Bonus...write out what you want your life to be like 50 years from now. Dream BIG because YOU are limitless! Build out a timeline that works backwards from there. 25 years, 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, 6 months from now, 3 months from now, 1 month from now, two weeks from now, 1 week from now...what do you need to do TODAY in order to start becoming that person 50 years from now?
Whatever it is - DO IT NOW. YOU are worth it - YOU are the most important person in your life!