The term “selfish” in every dictionary has a negative connotation. In Dictionary.com the definition reads: “lacking consideration of others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure”. I’ve been thinking a lot about the art of being selfish and what it really means especially in our society today. Despite new technologies that have eaten up our time, and the number of responsibilities you have as you age, we only have twenty-four hours in a day. The amount of time in a day will never change despite changes in technology, as well as environmental and cultural changes that may occur.
Having been raised as an only child, I only learned about sharing growing up as I interacted with various acquaintances, family members, students, co-workers and friends. I was taught that being selfish was a bad human quality, one in which would destroy relationships and cause for isolation in my life. Now, as I’ve grown older and the demand for my time has accelerated, I view being selfish in a completely different way. At times I want to be more selfish, while at others, I want to be more giving and open with my time. I’ve always told those that I’ve mentored that they should say “yes” as much as possible to opportunities in their teens and twenty’s, for the opportunity to say “no” as grown adults.
If you are never selfish, how are you supposed to invest in yourself, do activities that make you happy and be completely fulfilled? If you keep living for others and not putting yourself first, you will be worn down, depressed and regretful. By being fully selfless, you will be taken advantage of by people who want to use your time, which is your most valuable asset, for their benefit and not yours. This is why you must have a healthy mix of being selfish and selfless with the way you manage your life. You need to ensure that you are genuinely happy, while maintaining relationships with others.
I challenge you to be a little more selfish with your time, to do tasks that make you happy and to start saying “no” to projects and people that are draining you of your time. If your career goal is to write a fiction book and you keep getting consulting inquiries, they are a distraction that you should turn down UNLESS you require the money for survival. If your goal is to spend more time with your wife and daughter, then turn down opportunities to speak in other countries. Know your priorities and be more selfish with your time because life is short and if you aren’t happy, you won’t be able to make anyone else happy.