What do caregivers need most to not only survive, but to thrive?
No one ever claimed caregiving was easy, but most people don’t realize the incredible sacrifice it takes to be a caregiver. Caregivers invest an immense amount of energy and time into caring for loved ones. There are awesome challenges that are critical to giving care. By recognizing these challenges every single morning, caregivers are less likely to neglect their own needs. A caregiver who has morning practices, and puts a priority on their own well-being, is a person who can best serve others.
Finding our purpose can feel “just out of reach.” A “maybe someday” idea that we hope to fulfill in the future. But, what if your purpose is within your reach today.
Finding Meaning in the Morning
From the minute we awaken in the morning, we can choose our mindset. The busyness of daily caregiving might drain our energy, making it easy to go on autopilot.
But, if we’re willing to do four simple self-care practices, we can instead see the “purpose moments” hiding in plain sight. And, perhaps, every morning will start to look and feel like a purposeful day ahead.
Unexpected daily events can send us into a downward spiral. During these challenging days, we need a focal point to steady our gaze and renew our hope. Tangible practices can act as a daily compass.
There are many micro-practices to help us wake up on purpose. Here are four that are useful for the journey.
Four ways to wake up on purpose:
1. A Purpose Intention for the Day
Name your purpose today in a single word or phrase. The universal purpose is “grow and give.” Start with that. Spend time sitting with these two words and then post it where you’ll see it daily – on your mirror.
2. A Purpose Pause for the Day
Waking up on the wrong side of bed does not have to determine your day. All you need is “two minutes” to get up on the right side.
- Step 1: Pause (0 seconds)
Push the “pause button” – refrain from checking your phone for two minutes. Don’t allow technology to highjack your precious awakening time.
- Step 2: Breathe (60 seconds)
Take three deep breaths until you’re feeling centered.
- Step 3: Vision (60 seconds)
Picture the day ahead and the “purpose moments” where you might make a positive difference in one person’s life. Affirm silently to yourself your intention to act on your vision. Purpose is a verb. Commit aloud to act intentionally.
3. A Purpose Commitment for the Day
The late Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, favored a short verse by the great Indian poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore – the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize:
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.”
4. A Purpose “Listening Ear” for the Day
Isolation is fatal. Being a caregiver can be extremely time-intensive, particularly if you need to maintain a job and a family. When so much of one’s time – an average of 20 hours-a-week – is spent caring for others, isolation can be quite common. It becomes hard to make time for yourself.
Isolation is a precursor to burnout. Burnout often occurs when we neglect our own needs. Although we might feel that “selflessness” is a good thing, it can be quite harmful to go it alone. It’s critical to have a “listening ear” – someone who appreciates all you do to make someone’s life a little better. Over time, if you neglect your own needs, you will become physically and emotionally exhausted, and ultimately become less effective in providing care for the person that you care for.
Who is your “listening ear?” Who can you download your day with? Who says, “You’re doing a great job!”
Our purpose does not have to change the world to change our world. We cannot avoid the unexpected “jolts” that life will bring today. But, we don’t have to wake up drifting aimlessly. We can set a new course each day. In fact, there are 1440 “purpose moments” every day – moments to make a small difference in another person’s life. A hug, a kind word, or just listening without interrupting is enough to make a person’s day. It, ultimately, comes down to trusting that we have a purpose and that we can choose every morning to act on it, every single day of our lives.
Richard Leider, founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, is the author of eleven books, including three best sellers, which have sold over one million copies. Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose are considered classics in the personal growth field. Richard’s PBS Special – The Power of Purpose – was viewed by millions of people across the U.S. His newest book is Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?: The Path of Purposeful Aging.