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  • Writer's pictureZachP

#41. It Is Okay To Be Selfish . . . Sometimes

Since a person's physical and mental health directly relates to how much you will be able to enjoy your money later in life, any efforts to improve or ignore your health is, oddly enough, a financial issue.

I have gotten pushback on this subject on other forums (looking at you, Reddit, and your ruthless users), but if you are not able to enjoy the wealth you have built due to health reasons, what was it all for?

"Selfish" is a word that inherently brings about negative thoughts. Nobody has been called selfish and sincerely responded with an honest, "thank you!"

I am in the 50/50 boat when it comes to whether being selfish is a bad or a good thing. Here is what I mean by this - For the average person, about 50% of the time being selfish is a bad thing, and the other 50% of the time it can be a good thing.

You can dissect this to death and prove me wrong, but the purpose of this 50/50 approach is not to be exact. It is to show that being selfish is sometimes a good thing and something you should strive for.

There are three areas that I see people struggle when it comes to the internal battle of taking time for themselves versus pleasing someone else. These areas are work, being a parent, and being a spouse/partner. I will discuss each in turn, so it is easier to skip the sections that do not apply to you.

Work life

When you choose to work, you do need to make work one of your top priorities. At the end of the day, that is how you earn your paycheck. Having a steady paycheck is a valuable asset in your wealth building journey. But work should never be your top priority.

Some jobs make it harder to feel okay about taking time off for yourself and your family. If you work for a business where you personally deal with clients (or students) and are not kept away in a cubicle, you feel a stronger obligation to the company.

One tip on how to handle being selfish in the right way when it comes to work is to always view your employer for what they are. Most employers value your role in the company, which is why they choose to pay you for your services, but they are not your family.

Most effective companies try to build a team culture environment. This is a very effective way to run a business and can leave you putting the team above your own health and your family at all times.

However, with any successful business, they will always put the business over your needs. I am not writing this to create a debate on whether this is the right or wrong thing for a business to do, I am doing so to remind everyone to keep things in perspective.

Once you realize this simple truth, it will be easier to avoid making working for someone else the #1 priority in your life.

Parent life

I discuss pretty regularly that I am a toddler dad. My wife and I have a beautiful two and a half year old at home. Since we only have one child, I do not know whether what I am about to say is true for all toddlers. But this is one thing I have discovered over the last couple of years.

A toddler (specifically, an only child) demands your attention 100% of the time. I am using "demand" very intentionally as well. As your child grows, they do better understand that they should not constantly try to perform death-defying feats.

This means that they may not require your attention 100% of the time, but they do demand it. And they do so by using excellent negotiation tactics, such as screaming bloody murder or by taking the more pitiful approach of lying facedown in the middle of the floor sobbing with snot running down their nose.

The problem is not necessarily being selfish when you have a toddler, it is "feeling okay" about being a little selfish when you have a toddler. Most people go into parenting wanting to be the best parent they can be. Although this is an excellent goal to have, most people put their health towards the very bottom of their list of priorities. This may be fine for a certain period of time, but it is not a sustainable lifestyle.

Not every parent has the luxury of having a support system to help out, but if you do, have open conversations about needing an hour to yourself (or a date night). If you are open, honest, and appreciative about this, you will have an easier time keeping up with your health during child rearing.

Spouse/partner life

Counterintuitively, being a little selfish at times benefits both partners in the relationship. I have written about how your partner should be your top priority in your life, but there are times where you need to bump yourself up to that number spot for an hour or even a weekend away. This form of selfishness is healthy.

Just like having open conversations with your support system about needing time to yourself when you have a toddler, you should openly discuss with your partner about needing time to yourself even when a child is not a factor. If you take this approach, you will be better equipped to feel okay about being a little selfish.

Time to yourself is pointless if you are spending the entire time feeling guilty. You must figure out a healthy way in your relationship through open conversations for both partners to be okay with being a little selfish at times.

Final thoughts

True wealth is not solely a dollar amount. True wealth is having the time and the ability to do what you want in life. If you spend 30 years of your life consistently putting your health at the bottom of the list of your priorities, you may end up with a very large portfolio. But, are you truly wealthy at that point if you can not enjoy your accomplishments?

The original title of this article was, "It Is Okay To Be A Selfish Parent With A Toddler" because of how many things I originally wanted to write about in that section. But, after thinking more about the subject, I realized that being selfish in the right way actually applies to many other aspects of life.

Time spent focusing on yourself is wasted if you feel guilty the entire time. To avoid this going forward, try these three things: 1) Realize that it is healthy to be a little selfish sometimes, 2) Don't confuse work with family, and 3) Have open conversations with your partner about needing to do things for your own well-being.

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