by Linda Buck, CSJ
Happy New Year and welcome to 2024! Today is often viewed as a day of resolutions, aspirations of how we want the year to go, and making changes to accomplish that for which we most hope. We are also in a place of holding as we continue in the season of Christmas, approaching Epiphany, as most of the world begins taking down the Christmas decorations and moving on. Yet, the gift of this time continues to be one of waiting and expectation, the imagery of a guiding star and journeying toward like the Magi approaching.
Today is also International Self-Care Day.
This caught my attention because I have recently been asked to provide several workshops on the topic of balance and self-care. I have found this fairly humorous and ask the question: “Do I need to be practicing these things to talk about it?” Humor has some truth in it and I know I’ve needed to work on balance and self-care for some time. It is like playing the game Jenga, cautiously removing blocks and hoping the whole tower doesn't collapse. As I preach to others about self-care, I need to take heed of my own words. I do believe that self-care is integral to being a transformational leader and that this is the type of leader we need in our world today. I also believe that God does not want us to be worn down, neglecting areas of mind, body, and soul, and, at its worst, moving toward burnout.
As I think about the upcoming year, my resolutions are geared toward balance. I know it will be a rocky journey and yet, it is through the journey that I will find the way. I invite you to think about the 2 areas I’ll be focusing on for 2024. Perhaps they will help you if balance is an area needing attention.
(1) Practice self-empathy: I often ask the question of myself: “What would I tell someone else in this situation?” and then I honor (or at least try to honor) my sentiment. I think we often give others more grace than we give ourselves. This helps me to turn that grace toward me.
(2) Set boundaries and managing priorities: This is a difficult area, as we all have too many priorities swirling in our day and they creep into our best efforts at setting boundaries. We only have so much energy in a given day and we need to create boundaries so this energy is not over-extended. I often think that I am managing everyone else’s priorities rather than my own. Finding the balance between competing priorities and maintaining a sense of calm is a challenge. Over this past year, I found myself asking the question: “Is this something that can wait until tomorrow?” If the answer is yes, it moves down on my priority list.
I think the key here is consistency, reflection, and practicing regular self-assessments. As I reflect and assess, I will keep attuned to my energy, and what is most important, to create space for relationships with others and with God. I pray that 2024 is a year for all of us to find our balance and continue developing our call to be transformational leaders in our communities, religious life, the church, and the world.