Why “Selfish” People Are Happier & More Successful
Being selfish is wrong, right? It’s what most of us are taught as children. But, what if being selfish is actually one of the key ingredients to success?
The path to success and achieving our goals and dreams is often challenging and takes hard work, energy, dedication and focus. It isn’t always easy.
It’s also the reason why many people fail to see their dreams become a reality – they don’t have the time, they are too tired, they get side tracked, or maybe they are simply too busy focusing on meeting other people’s needs or expectations to put the time and energy required into their own dreams (for more detail see our post ‘5 reasons you put everyone first’ here).
Yet, everyone was born to thrive. Fulfilling our dreams, living with a sense of purpose and with a mission is fundamental to our experience of what it means to be human. When we thrive, we encourage those around us to thrive too.
So, how can you make sure you succeed and that you can dedicate the time, energy, focus and hard work required to overcome the obstacles between you and your dream? It’s simple – learn to be selfish.
Learn to say ‘No’
Learning to say no can be hard at first. People who have come to expect you to be there for them all the time, every time, may be offended or hurt when you react differently to how you usually would.
You deserve to achieve your dreams though, just as much as they do. If you are constantly meeting the needs of others, you will have less energy, less time and less focus to spend on doing the things that you need to, to live the life that you desire.
This doesn’t mean that you have to stop helping people or stop enjoying the pleasure of being generous and connecting with others. It just means that sometimes, you have to take stock of what you need (be it an early night, heading to the gym, time to make a nutritious meal or just an opportunity to reflect and take in the sunset), and then do that thing before you say ‘yes’ to fulfilling someone else’s needs.
Lose the guilt
Guilt and fear of letting someone else down is a big factor in why and how we may wind up at our third family dinner in a week instead of working on our dreams, or why we end up listening for hours on end to a friend complaining about their boss instead of listening to a motivational podcast to help us grow. It is natural for us, as humans, to want to connect and to be ‘there’ for our friends and family. In fact, it is one of the 6 main human needs.
But feeling a little guilt short-term while you learn to say ‘no’ is nothing compared with the sadness and regret you may feel long term when you look back and realise that you haven’t achieved your goals because you’ve been too busy doing things for everyone else.
Set boundaries – and stick to them
Setting boundaries will help you to balance achieving your needs, with the needs of others. It can also help you to lose the guilt. For example, try putting a time limit on things. After listening to your friend for 20 minutes, wrap up the call. Reassure her that you’re there for her but explain that you’ve got other commitments.
Keep commitments to yourself
Plan to succeed. If you’re busy (and who isn’t?) set aside time in your calendar to do the things you need to do to achieve your dreams.
This could be as simple as putting time aside to go to the gym, or scheduling in some ‘me time’. Whatever it is that you plan to do for yourself, or whatever action you plan to take toward your dreams, remember that you’ve planned it for a reason. If your friend rings up looking for help to move house on the day you’ve scheduled to attend a seminar, keep the commitment to yourself! It is no less important than helping your friend.
Remind yourself of the bigger picture
Finally, when you’re saying ‘no’ it can help to remind yourself of the bigger picture – your purpose in life is to thrive, and bring your unique talents to the world. If you look after yourself first, you’ll be looking after others, too.