Become “Healthily Selfish”

Dr. John Townsend

December 28, 2016

This Christmas and New Year season, make a resolution for yourself that will actually get you somewhere next year: learn to be “healthily selfish.” You will surprised by the progress and growth you experience in the important areas of your life with this skill.

Let’s first clarify that “selfishness” all by itself isn’t a good thing at all. It puts our own interests out there at the expense of others, and ultimately backfires in life. Healthy selfishness is actually about being a responsible steward of your time and energy, while at the same time caring for, and serving those you care about. Here are some principles and tips that will help you.

· Actually write down your own goals for this year. Healthy people do more than consider what they want to accomplish. They actually take the time, focus and energy to write their goals down. It will take time away from what others want of you, but it will be worth it.

· Before you answer others’ requests for your time, review your priorities. A critical mistake people make in the morning is to answer emails, texts and phone calls before they really consider what they themselves want their day to look like. The result is that the day is controlled by others’ agenda for you, and not your own. Instead, resist the temptation to respond to others first, and simply spend a few minutes reviewing what your priorities are for that day. You will find that the demands and requests of others will find their place within your agenda, rather than hijacking your agenda.

· Express to others what you truly desire and need. Your needs are good things. They are the fuel to your growth and success. You and you alone are responsible for your own needs, and they are yours to convey. It’s not a narcissistic move to say “I need some time with you” “I need some time for myself” or “I’d like to talk about an idea I have with you.” It is simply how life works. No one can say what we need but ourselves. We truly don’t have, because we don’t ask (James 4:2).

· Say “no” every day. I study uber-successful people, to understand their own secret sauce. One consistent habit these individuals have is that they almost NEVER go through a day without at least one polite but clear statement in which words come out like “No”, “Can’t do that”, “That doesn’t work for me” or “Sorry, that won’t happen. ” You have to exercise that “no muscle” on a daily basis, to keep it working smoothly and consistently. And you’ll still be a nice person!

Be “healthily selfish”—that is, be in control of your time and energy. And do good in the world.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

John Townsend

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