Are You Number One?

Are you Number One? Where do you fall on your list of priorities?

We all have busy lives, when we get up in the morning the clock starts ticking and the race is on! We are stretched in so many directions, and we have a hard time saying “no” when we are asked to do more. At the end of the day take a moment to ask yourself, “What did I do for myself today?” Chances are you probably didn’t even take the time to eat lunch which means you certainly did not stop to smell the roses. I used to live this way until I made a conscious effort to make myself number one.

Photo courtesy of ©

I knew that with a baby on the way this cycle had the potential to become more demanding than it already was. So, before my son was born I made a pact with myself:  I will put myself before others, even him. Now before you think that I am a selfish person, let me explain. If I put everybody and everything ahead of myself, then when will I take care of myself? Never! With a sound mind and strong body I am much more valuable as a father. Not to mention that I will be around longer to enjoy all that is in store for me as my son grows up.

I believe self care is one of the least taught lessons in life, and one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves and others, especially our children. The three areas that we can tap into to keep us healthy are our Mind, Body & Spirit.

  • Mind – “Mind over matter,” if you don’t mind, it don’t’ matter. I get inspiration from learning how others have overcome adversity, achieved athletic excellence or success in business. One of the most inspiring people I have come to love is Scott Rigsby; a guy who lost his legs but became an Iron Man.

**The Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson is also up on my list of fascinating and thought-provoking  reads that challenged and inspired me.

  • Body –If don’t take care of my physical body it will eventually catch up with me and I absolutely want to be around for years to come to play volleyball with my son. Sometimes a family walk with my 3 German Shepards is all it takes. When I want more of an adventure I go to Crossfit;  this has been a fun challenge to say the least.
  • Spirit –If I don’t feed my spirituality, I lose touch with God. For me taking time to meditate and practice yoga helps me stay in touch with God. It’s a given that God is the ultimate number one. God is omnipresent and there is only one of me. Putting myself first, even before my family is strengthening my spirit while creating a balanced life for my family.

We can only serve others well, when we serve ourselves well. This is clearer to me now more than ever since becoming a father. We either model healthy choices or we forge an uphill battle we will never win. And, you ultimately want to win. You’re Number One!

Ask yourself these 3 Questions:

How do you care for yourself?

Do you put yourself high or low on your priority list?

What can you do to put yourself at the top of the list?




About Neil

I was born into a large Irish Catholic family in 1967 as the youngest of seven children.

My Grandfathers were best friends & coincidentally, both owners of funeral homes. John Cox (Oakland) had Joseph A. O’Connor (Los Angeles)or “Johnny” as his best man at his wedding. My parents, Joe & Jane O’Connor, met through the friendships of my grandparents.
I moved to Laguna Niguel as a child & graduated from Dana Hills High School in 1986. I served in the Navy before finally joining the family business in 1989 and establishing the 4th generation of our family-owned & operated business. In 2000, after the retirement of my father, I became the President & CEO of O’Connor Mortuary.
I met my wife, Lisa, in Maui while on a yoga retreat in 2003 and we now have a son –
Jesse Joseph O’Connor – the pride & joy of my life.
I still actively play Beach Volleyball at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach and practice Ashtanga Yoga, I’m extremely passionate about these practices, about staying healthy and balanced in my body, mind & soul.
As CEO I am privileged to be involved with partners in our community such as Saddleback Hospital, Mission Hospital, Age Well Senior Services, San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, TIP Trauma Intervention Program, and many others. My driving passion is to provide education, care & support to my family, friends & community.

I love helping others when they need it the most.

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  • Lori Bristol

    Thank you for your post and the reminder we all need to put ourselves first.
    It is so easy to get caught up in caring for others, especially since we work in a service related industry. It trickles over into our lives outside of work and at the end of the day we have forgotten to do something just for us

    I am struggling with that while on vacation this week. There are things I HAVE to take care of. The stuff that can wait I am putting on the backburner. I need this time to recharge mentally, physically and spiritually. It is easier said than done though.

    I will remember this when I am feeling guilty about putting myself first.

    Great job Neil!!

    • Hi Lori –

      Thank you for your reply. This is a great challenge for all of us, I too struggle with balancing my life.
      Life is short, so we only have so much time to do what we HAVE to do.
      Here is my suggestion for your next day off or vacation time, write a list of two things you want to do for your self, and then put them on the top of the list. All the other items will get done in time.
      Only you can take care of your self, plus you deserve to treat your self well.


      • Lori Bristol


        I have taken a couple of hikes, enjoyed the company of friends and put off an appointment so I could have more time to myself to recharge.

        I just might be getting the hang of this!

        Thank you,

  • Anne Collins

    Neil, I too am very guilty of this. I put everything else before me. My do list sometimes seems more urgent, so I leave “me” for last. Balance, balance, balance is the key. And I DON’T mean a “balancing act” of trying to keep 10 balls in the air and hope none of them fall on my toes. I also learned breathing from you. Being naturally a shallow breather, I get great benefit when I stop and really breathe. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. Anne

    • Hi Anne –

      Thank you for your reply. I know you just got back from San Diego and you had time to relax, you deserve the time away from work and home. Sometimes taking time for your self can be in little doses, a walk, a good book, or a good conversation with a good friend. We all have a different way of doing this, so keep this on top of your mind and you will find ways to keep caring for your self.


  • Jeff Turner


    Thank you for this prospective. You have helped me over the years to change my understanding with this very topic. Self denial taken to the extreme, can put us in a place where there simply isn’t enough of us to give in any effective way. The “balance” in life is what I have heard from you at a number of important junctures in my life. Thanks for leading me to a healthier life. I still need to hear this message from time to time and I appreciate you writing this down.

    I love you man!

    • Hi Jeff –

      Thank you for your reply.
      You have taught me more about life than I could ever offer to you.


  • I do have certain times that are for myself. However, I also know I need to do more for myself physically and spiritually. And sometimes, I feel selfish when I take myself away to take care of whatever needs I have. And sometimes, I just feel sorry for myself!

    • Hi Annette –

      Thank you for reply.
      Life is ironic, most care takers forget about self care.
      As you know we can only really care for others if we care for our selves.
      It’s OK to be selfish at times, what is the other option?


  • I love this post. I’ll admit that when I first read it I was put off by the title and the “selfish” tone but I see pretty clearly now that that was my defensiveness kicking in. I LOVE taking care of myself but so often I’m sacrificing that time for something that I deem more important when it really isn’t. Society has very little room or time for self care and it’s a crime that we feel so guilty for wanting to take care of ourselves. Ayn Rand wrote a philosophical book about “The Virtue of Selfishness” and her premise is very similar to yours, Neil. Take care of yourself and you’ll take care of everyone else more efficiently and effectively than you could have in any other way.

    Thanks for the great post, and to answer one of the questions you posed: I take care of myself by laying out in the sun with a good book or taking my funny dog for a walk in the park with my husband. These are always the simplest and purest of things and that’s so often not only where health abides but truth, love, and deep meaning as well.

    • Hi Molly –

      Thank you for your reply.
      I think when we are young self care is really not on our radar. The older you get the more critical self care gets, work life, family life, friends, and YOUR SELF, how do we fit this all in? Only you can answer that.
      This is a great lesson for us to learn at a young age. My Mom & Dad taught me this lesson at an early age, and I am very thankful.


  • Kari

    This is an excellent reminder for me. As a wife, mother of many, and employee, I get extremely caught up in everybody and everything else. It’s almost as if we need permission to care for ourselves. I am going to make it a personal commitment this year to remember me, and that I am able to care for my mind, body, and soul above all the other things that pull me in 500 different directions.

    • Hi Kari –

      Thank you for your reply! I am glad you recognize the importance of taking care of your self.
      You will still have the 500 other things to attend to, yet you will be in a better place to serve those around you!


  • Carrie Bayer

    Well said, Neil! I’m frequently finding myself last on my list of priorities & that needs to change. I’ve been doing much better at putting ME first than in years past & practice will make me better at it. Thank you for putting it out there so simply! Carrie

    • Hi Carrie –

      Thanks for your reply! Just remember that you are number ONE and it is OK to take care for your self. Heck you deserve the best, you give so much to so many people. As a care taker your self care will reflex how well you can care for others.


  • Maria Fernandez

    Wow! This post actually brings tears to my eyes…. How quickly we can fall into a state of false humility and forget that even the Bible tells us we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that we DO need to take care of ourselves. Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom.

  • Maria –

    Great to hear from you! I am sorry to bring tears to you, yet I am glad you are not a robot too. I know this is a basic message yet, I forget about my self at times too. I have to make a conscience decision to plan out my week for working out, my eating habits are my struggle, I have a lot of opportunity to improve in this area. I hope you and your family are well. We miss you dearly! Thank you for still supporting us! XOXOXO


  • Patricia Kolstad

    I so appreciate your blog. It reminds me that we are lifelong learners on this big blue ball. And sometimes it takes someone to challenge us on various levels of life for us to make the connection. When I was young I thought that when I got married that my husband would “take care of me.” As I grew older and somewhat wiser, I realized that we are the owners of the temple. We are in charge of our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical self. What we do or do not do, determines the outcome. l will protect my heart, and feed my body, soul and mind. How do I do that? I walk in the evenings around my new home in the Village, I listen to one really great music at night, and I’m reading a really great book called “The Power of Pause” by Terry Hershey, and from that, I’m learning to live my life by seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting, much more than ever before. What a concept, huh? Thanks, Neil

  • Shayna Mallik

    Wow this post is so true. I myself am guilty of not always putting myself first, especially when it comes to helping my family out even when I do not really have the time. I am learning to just say no and take the time for myself. It is difficult but your blog has inspired me to continue to take the time for myself and be selfish. There are times when you need to be selfish and you need your time. Thank you for this blog!!!!


  • Neil,

    Well said, you have to do it for yourself first or you cannot do it for others. Even God took a day to rest and recoup, so why shouldn’t we? The demands for your attention and time seem ten fold today compared to yesterday. So it is more important today then it was yesterday to care for self, not selfish, just smart.

    • Chuck –

      Well said, God even gets worn out!

  • Kristen

    This is a concept I have tried to adopt for the last year or so, and I find the need for frequent reminders! It is so true that there is a very real power of presence when you have taken the time to nourish your body, mind, and soul. I nourish my body by running, yoga, and eating as simply and whole as I can. I nourish my mind when I can ponder over a good book (or blog!), play some cello, listen to one of my favorite radio shows, or indulge in a great conversation. I nourish my soul when I am in church, knitting, sampling some new music, or taking in a good French film! (no doubt, there are many more on my list!). Without fail, in this fast-paced culture, weeks or more may go by before I notice these things have fallen low on my cyclical to-do list. These are the times when I am most impatient, moody, distracted, and have difficulty sleeping. In other words, I am the least accessible to those who now occupy the top of my list. Perhaps we would find less hostility in the world today if we gave ourselves holistic “siestas” everyday. Thank you for the reminder, NP!

    • Hi Kristen –

      Thank you for your reply. You have the concept down,…………….. in theory. You have a busy life to say the least!
      I like your idea of the “siestas” that is one of the best ways to care for your self. Make your self number ONE and everyone else will know it!

      Have a great day!

  • Hi Neil,

    Great post.

    As a culture who is work-obsessed (and has one of the worst work/life balances in the world) it’s important to remember that in order to be healthy, you need to enjoy yourself.

    I am an avid JIllian Michaels workout fan and in one of her videos she reminds us that “most people don’t show up in their own life…They go through life every single day without being focused on themselves.”

    It’s posts like these that make you stop and think about what you’re doing to improve your life everyday, and to never forget about you.

    • Hi Krystal

      Thank you for your reply. I am glad that you enjoyed the post. It seems like all our lives seem to get busier everyday. Our culture is not very user friendly to us, rest, relaxing, a recharging. I hope you can make time for your self and reflect on how you are really doing.

      Take care,

  • Amy

    We all often lose sight of ourselves and are more worried about those around us. I am very guilty myself of always putting others first. It is a good reminder that you are no good to others if you yourself are not taken care of. I must now stop and smell the roses and think of me.

    • Hi Amy –

      Thank you for your reply! We all lose sight of our selves in life. You can only be as good as you want to others, if you are good to your self. Our Culture tries to tell us to do ten things at once, and do them all faster and faster, we are not designed to work 7/24. I hope you have time to take care of your self and enjoy life as it was a gift given to us.

      Take Care,