To say being selfish makes me uncomfortable is an understatement. Just typing in the title on this blog made me squirm.
I am not well practiced at it, nor well versed.
Towards the end of 2017 and entering into 2018, I started to work – literally – on being more selfish.
It has not gone well.
But, I thought it would be worthy to discuss in case anyone else is an over giver and sharer who feels stuck like me! Here were my steps to becoming more selfish…
- Learn to say “No” – I have never heard my Dad say “no.” I know, I know- that may make you think I am a spoiled brat. But, I am not because I don’t (and didn’t) abuse it. But, I can honestly say that to my knowledge he has never said just flat out “NO.” If he wants to say “no,” you can tell because he will start asking leading questions and talk you out of what you thought should be a “yes.” So, the apple falls very close to the tree on this one. I have a hard time with the answer “no.” I have practiced for many years being open to all opportunities and all access by saying “yes.” Doing an about face and starting to say “no” has been really difficult.I started with small stuff – “No I cannot be available for a call then.” “No- I am not okay with bananas in my smoothie”, ” No- I do not want to do yard work”. And then I graduated up to some higher level “nos.” “No- we are not a good fit for that project.” “No- I cannot spearhead that committee this year/” ” No, I cannot get that done by the deadline”. And I would like to say that some amazing transformation has happened, but it has mostly resulted in guilt and fear thus far. Will I be missing something? Will this “no” affect my business? Can I learn to like bananas?! One positive side effect has been time…
- Time…oh time! Something of which I am sure we could all use more. To be more selfish, I had to learn how to compartmentalize my time. By saying “no,” I got some more of my time back. I decided to use that “found time” to focus on the things that were important to me at the moment. Since August, my personal life has been crazy. We bought a new house, sold two others at the same time and renovated the new house from top to bottom (still ongoing). The amount of trash yall…unbelievable, who knew?! The number of contractors needed…20 at least. The amount of time needed at home…limitless. We also got engaged, celebrated with a shower and planned a large engagement party for May. We then planned a smaller wedding in July followed by a long honeymoon. And if that is not enough I had to step up for my company and take on some additional responsibility. So how I have I managed? Quite frankly – I owe an apology to my friends and a lot of our family. We spent 15+ hours this weekend painting. Heads down painting…ugggg. Also emails and work activities only happen 8-5ish Monday through Friday. Our clients have had to hold on and adjust to a less “on call” type of response time. This is how it should have been all along. I have had to be super real and transparent with anyone needing something “now.” It will get done it just may not get done when you want.
- Money…something I sure we could all use more of as well. I heard once that if you can break down what you can make in an hour – let’s say $50 and hour – and it takes you 4 + hours to clean your house – then it is probably worth paying someone $150 to do it for you. Especially if you do not enjoy cleaning your house. So we have had some major discussions on what can be outsourced around the house and what can reasonably be done. This was by far one of the easiest places for me to be selfish. While I do not mind cleaning, there is something about coming home to a clean house. Yard work, laundry, cooking, and even painting are all on the table still but we have gotten a cleaner once. And it was awesome! So while my fiancé is still not 100% on my theory about spending a bit to save a bit…we are having the conversations which is a step in the right direction. And this will hopefully free up some more time and allow me to keep saying no to the things I just do not enjoy doing… aka be selfish!
- Emotional Control! By being more selfish – I have become more self aware, more in control of all of my emotions. I feel like I have spent more time in the last few months thinking about what I want, planning, and working towards those goals. This all started by knowing that I needed to be more selfish and a side effect of doing that is that it has clarified what I really want in life. This independence we search for as entrepreneurs bled into all parts of my life and I was pushing so hard for that independent life – have it all and do it all – that I forgot to take care of myself first. You know the whole put your air mask on before your neighbors. I was suffocating by putting everyone else first. This emotional control has been so amazing for all my personal relationships. I also feel like I have restored some order within my client relationships. Surprisingly people actually get it when you say no. Not going to lie…some know the tried and true “No means Know More” negotiation tactic but luckily I have mastered this and sometimes the answer is just No!
So while I am still mastering the art of being selfish, I think that this is a pretty good start! It is an everyday battle but one that I encourage everyone to dig a little deeper to find out what the most important things are in your life.