There are plenty of folks out there writing about the benefits and special place in heaven set aside for the most generous souls among us, but I firmly believe that (within certain qualifying criteria) it’s okay to be a little selfish. Sometimes a lot selfish.
Here are five times that I identified where being selfish is perfectly acceptable.
1. When you’re at capacity levels
Every one of us has their own level of ability to deal with projects, work demands, family demands, volunteering, side-gigs, etc. Everyone’s cup has a different fill-level — but when it’s just shy of overflowing each of us knows it. Prior to pressures and projects reaching the brim of your own cup, be sure to take time out to spend it anyway you wish in order to decompress and lower your levels. As the cartoon sailor Popeye said: “I’ve had all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!”
2. When family requires it
Whether you’re married with kids, single and raise kids, have a parent who depends on you, or simply have friends who are like family — when they need you, drop what you’re doing and help. You might think this is being selfless and not selfish, but I guarantee you that if you have some boss or client that you need to push off in order to go help your friend or family, they’ll see it as taking away from their own needs, thus making you selfish. In actuality, they are the ones being selfish. You should really think about if you want to go back and work for them at all after you’re done helping your family.
3. When you need time to chase dreams
No matter your workload, be sure to allow for a little bit of dream chasing time. You might have dreamed of being a dancer, painter or writer or cartoonist (guilty!) Perhaps you enjoy learning about fine wine or quality cigars. Perhaps you love the mountains or the beach — whatever it is, be selfish in scheduling sometime to pursue these things. What is the point of working so hard through your life, that you don’t leave any time left over to enjoy it? My good friend Marketing Fun With Mike writes extensively on the topic of living your passion (he doesn’t just write about it — he lives it.) How about you? (PS: Here’s one of Mike’s latest articles on the subject.)
4. When your gut tells you
Trust your instincts! I’m sure you’ve had the same experience — someone wants you to work on a project or accept a new responsibility or make a new time commitment and your insides are screaming “NOOO!” but you decide to do it anyway. And what always happens? You regret it, the experience ruins the entire friendship, and it was never worth it in the long run. Trust your gut. Say no and be a little selfish for just a moment rather than regret it for a potential lifetime.
5. Because you’re worth it
This has been one that I struggle with myself. Someone asks for my professional time and expertise and I get all shy about charging for the value I bring. I’m getting better about it, but it’s still an internal argument between the voices in my head. It’s not selfish at all to charge for what you’re worth. You’ve put the time and energy into becoming the best at what you do — you should get paid for it. Chances are you probably need to double your rates today. We never charge enough for our own services and insight. I’m giving you personal permission to go ahead and up your rates by 100%. It’s not selfish at all — you are making it possible to better serve those who invest in your counsel and to ensure that you are financially able to continue helping others.
It’s actually quite generous of you.