From an early age we are taught that selfishness is bad.
Remember being told to share your sweets and your toys with others? Sharing is good, right?
Of course it is but, if you give too much of yourself to others, the consequences can be devastating for you and possibly those closest to you.
It is essential to look after yourself.
Some top tips
So, there are times when it pays to be selfish and look after number one. But how can you be selfish without upsetting others or making yourself feel guilty as a result?
Know your limitations
We all have limits to our physical and mental strength. An awareness of these and, more importantly, when they are being reached, is essential to knowing when to take time out for yourself.
Even if you really love your job and rush in to work every day with gusto, you will still have a limited amount of energy that will become depleted over time.
Knowing what the warning signs are and acting upon them is critical to your self-survival. Classic warning sign of someone who is reaching their limits include fatigue, irritability, headaches, lack of enthusiasm - and more.
Take time out for yourself
It is really important to make time for yourself during the day, even if it is just 5 minutes here and there.
I personally take time in the morning before I start work, during the working day and at the end of the working day.
Sometimes that means getting out of bed a little earlier, but I prefer to do that in order to avoid starting the day in a rush just because I wanted to hit the snooze button a few times.
During the day I always find time to just sit down and clear my head of all work-related matters.
Find somewhere you can grab a few minutes to yourself, even if is just walking around outside the place where you work. At the end of the working day, take time to ‘switch off’.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you do feel like you are reaching the limits of your ability to cope, ask for help.
This is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of someone who knows when and how to take appropriate action in order to prevent a small problem becoming a big one.
You could ask a colleague, your manager, if you have access to them. Any one of these individuals would much rather intervene sooner rather than later.
You would support a colleague who asked for help - wouldn’t you?
Be prepared to say “no”
Saying no to the demands of others can be tough, especially if it is someone senior that is making the request.
However, the consequences of not saying “no” when you need to are tougher.
If your boss keeps adding to your workload and you take it all on the chin, then you initially appear like a willing team player or a good worker.
But eventually your work will begin to suffer as you spread yourself too thinly.
If your manager or another colleague asks for help, be honest with them about your current workload.
If a colleague desperately needs your help with something, what could they help you with by way of reciprocation?
If it is your boss, what could they take away from you and pass to someone else or what will they allow you to put on the back burner for a while?
Be NEAT when saying no. This stands for:
No - say it up front, don’t prevaricate.
Explain - state why you are saying “no” on this occasion.
Alternatives - be prepared to explore these, especially if it is someone senior that is making the request of you.
Timeline - agree a timeline for what will happen next if you have agreed to help (if you haven’t, then ignore this step).
Remember, there is only one of you and you are no good to your colleagues, your manager or your loved ones if you get ‘burned out’.
Stress costs businesses all over the planet billions every year in lost productivity. You can help to avoid this by being selfish!