Lots of people think that it’s selfish to put yourself first. That it’s better to always respond to other people’s needs above your own, or to give your time to whomever most demands it versus who truly cares about you. After all, putting others first, and responding to their demands all the time, and never saying “no” is not just self-less, but easy. But there’s a problem with this.
Taking the easy way causes us to end up paying attention to what is most obvious instead of what is deep and genuine inside of us. The “easy way” keeps us comfortable in the present, yet it frustrates us in the long term because we are not doing what is most important and meaningful to ourselves.
It isn’t that I don’t believe in authentic service or caring for others, it’s just when you always put yourself last, you can end up burnt out, bitter, and even resentful.
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Here are some quick tips on how you can put yourself first in your life and work
1. Create Rituals
For the important, but not urgent, activities, create regular rituals that direct you toward investing your time in your priorities. For example, you could develop a set prayer or a mindful routine that you do every morning as soon as you wake up, or you could have a shut-down routine that you do 30 minutes before you leave work to review the day and put everything in order.
2. Invest in Yourself First
There will always be more meetings to attend, more client work to complete, and more questions to answer, but there will not always be more time to do what’s in your best interest, such as making sales calls, working on a writing project, or getting to sleep on time. If you’re used to responding to people’s needs, you need to learn to be a bit more “selfish” about your time.
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3. Wait a Minute
Unless you work in an emergency medical environment, seconds, minutes and even hours often don’t make a huge difference in the well being and safety of those around you. So when you’re asked for something, wrap up what you’re working on and then get back to them; or send them a message acknowledging that you received their message and letting them know when you can attend to their request.
This approach will leave you with fewer loose ends and a great increase in efficiency due to the fact that you’re not having to come back to tasks and get back into the rhythm of working on them.
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Think about how you can step out of the cycle of responsiveness and move into a place of investing in what matters most to you. You’ll find that when you put yourself first, you will inspire others to be better, and live better, and your “selfishness” will help them more than you could ever imagine.
Here’s to not making the easy choice…
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the CEO & Founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress. Find out more at ScheduleMakeover.com.
Featured photo by Sudhamshu
Originally published 2/13/13.