Fitting your oxygen mask first is not selfish!

“On an aeroplane, you are always told to put on your oxygen mask first. The same way in life, you need to take care of your health first. If you are not happy and healthy, you cannot make anyone else happy and healthy.” Rajashree Choudhury


I have always had intentions and hopes that “one day” – possibly one of the most over-used yet under-actioned phrases ever – I would run my own businesses and create something from scratch and be my own boss. I just couldn’t figure out what that “something” was, and in reality, I wasn’t going the right way of finding out. The phrase is “flinging mud against a wall and hoping it sticks” comes to mind.

I have always loved sport, so I figured that it would be something to do with sport. I love people and networking, so I reasoned that it would be something to do with talking to people and helping them in various ways. I loved writing, so I thought I’ll be an author and be in the media too.

While these are all fairly close to what I currently do, there was one important ingredient missing before I could escape from a traditional job… Self-Awareness!


Round, round, get around

If I look back at my working career, I lurched from one role to the next based purely on financial reasons, a decision that I’m sure many people justify to themselves as to why they’re in their particular role. It wasn’t a very difficult decision, despite the full knowledge that I was going to be unfulfilled or was feeling so at the time, as my priority in life was travelling and having fun. Work was a means to an end.

a_vicious_circleBut eating away at me constantly was the nagging sensation that I was wanting more out of a working life. I was fairly confident of my writing abilities and sporting knowledge, and I knew I could add value somewhere. I dabbled with a few sideline activities in sports and media, but never really made any real progress. As such, I had plenty of negative self-talk and continually self-sabotaged myself. It was a vicious circle.


Significant Event

I had been through a number of personal setbacks and challenges by the time of my early 30s. On the flip side, I had also travelled extensively and gained a fairly broad perspective of the world. As such, I had started to be more aligned with a desire to mentor others not to make the same mistakes as I had done.

A lot of life coaches I speak to usually have a significant life event that led them to become mentors; triggers like divorce, defaulting on debt and death. My turning point was the death of a close friend 2 years ago, which was the final straw. It slapped me about and in the process of mourning, I knew that something had to give, and, more importantly, I had a lot to give the world!


It starts with you

There are plenty of self-awareness and self-identity exercises to do, but some of the things I did were:

  • Wrote a perfect job description (including perfect working environment and working arrangements)
  • Wrote my perfect day and week
  • Got a mentor
  • Read books like Personality Plus and The 5 Love Languages (despite not being religious!)
  • Chatted regularly with a select number of friends that were also entrepreneurial – similar to a board of advisors

While helping other people is a noble pursuit, you can’t help others if you haven’t helped yourself first. As you can see, I had plenty of self-reflection to do in order to “find the real me”. While this all sounds highly airy-fairy, it really was what had to happen before I could contemplate helping others.

In fitting my own oxygen mask first, I have led myself to a path of enlightenment and self-discovery, which in turn helped me find my why. I sincerely wish the same for anyone reading.


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